By Staff Reporter
A research and survey vessel began on Monday a reconnaissance study for the optimum route for a proposed high-voltage subsea power cable connecting Israel and Cyprus to the European mainland.
The Italy-flagged Odin Finder, owned and operated by Italian company GAS S.r.l, set out from the port of Limassol in the morning.
According to Marine Traffic, the vessel’s destination is the port of Piraeus, Greece, with an estimated time of arrival there at 12:00 (UTC) on Thursday.
The ship is equipped to carry out various operations, including bathymetry, survey, geotechnical and ROV surveys.
Mapping out the best route for the cable is expected to be completed during this year.
The cable will have the capacity to transmit 2,000 MW of energy along its east-west cable, selling Israel Energy Corporation’s excess electricity production to Cyprus or any other buyer further west.
The 1,518km-long subsea cable will connect Israel and Cyprus to southeast and western Europe to satisfy the continent’s need for cheap electricity.
It will connect Israel with Cyprus, Cyprus with Crete, and Crete with the Peloponnese, from where electricity supply can be distributed to Greece or further afield.
Work on the initial 329-kilometre cable link between Israel and Cyprus is expected to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2019. The second phase will connect the Greek island of Crete to Attica in mainland Greece in 2020 and the third and final phase will connect the cable from Cyprus to Crete with a view to full implementation of the “electricity highway” by 2022.
Known as the EuroAsia InterConnector, the project is initiated by the DEI-Quantum Energy joint venture, a partnership between DEI, the public power corporation of Greece, and Quantum, operator of hydroelectric and power stations in the Republic of Serbia.
Nasos Ktorides, chairman of the joint venture, was earlier quoted as saying the project cost – €1.5bn – should be recouped in four years and should earn €17.5bn throughout the life of the cable.
The project is included in the revised list of 195 Projects of Common Interest (PCI), issued on November 18 by the European Commission. It offers significant economic and geopolitical benefits to the involved countries and contributes to the EU target for 10 per cent of electricity interconnection between member states.
According to local reports, the cable’s expected lifespan is estimated at 50 years. Once fully completed, the cable will allow for bi-directional transmission of electricity.
The partners have stressed the project’s considerable significance, including ending the energy isolation of Cyprus and paving the way for cheaper electricity due to competition.
The Odin Finder is the same vessel which in the summer of 2013 was carrying out depth soundings as preparatory work for the laying of fibre-optic cables. It was chartered by the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA).
According to reports at the time, the vessel was intercepted by a Turkish warship while off the coast of Paphos and ordered to retreat as it had ‘encroached’ into Turkey’s continental shelf.
In 2011 Turkey signed a ‘continental shelf delineation agreement’ with the breakaway regime in a purported effort to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots to the island’s natural resources, while also serving to support Turkey’s argument against islands having any right to an EEZ.
Maps published in Turkey’s official gazette show that oil drilling permits issued to TPAO, Turkey’s national oil and gas company, stretch as far as the Greek island of Rhodes as well as blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in Cyprus’ EEZ, south and south-west of the island.