EuroAsia Interconnector Ltd – the Cypriot company behind the mooted subsea power cable linking Greece, Israel and Cyprus – will quit the project entirely, it emerged on Monday.
Industry sources moreover told the Cyprus Mail that the company is being wound down after having earlier handed the baton of the interconnector project to Greece’s Independent Power Transmission Operator (Ipto).
“The company’s cycle has come to a close,” the sources said.
The clarification comes after it was reported earlier this month that Greece’s Ipto had taken over from the Cypriot company as the project promoter. But beyond that, it turns out that EuroAsia Interconnector Ltd will no longer participate in the project at all.
The transfer to the Greek entity came after repeated rumblings about the project running into financing trouble.
Greece’s Ipto is 51 per cent owned by the Greek state. The State Grid Corporation of China has a 24 per cent stake, with the rest owned by other investors.
“It’s no longer a Cypriot project, it’s a Greek/Chinese project,” commented the sources.
The Cypriot company is currently in the process of transferring all the EU grants to Greece’s Ipto.
In January 2022 the European Commission had approved €657 million under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for the project. There was also an additional grant of €100 million through the Cyprus Recovery and Resilience Plan, part of the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).
The power cable was pitched as aiming to end Cyprus’ electricity isolation from the European continent.
Initially the Cyprus to Crete stretch of the cable was estimated at €1.6 billion. But the latest estimate had it up to nearly €2 billion – reportedly due to the rising cost of construction materials.
Earlier the government here had conceded that, under the stewardship of the Cypriot company, the project faced a funding shortfall. In August it emerged the European Investment Bank was not keen on approving a loan for the endeavour.
At the time the energy minister even suggested that the Cypriot state might get involved – either by underwriting loans for the project, or by acquiring a direct stake.
Meanwhile on Monday local media reported that EuroAsia Interconnector Ltd’s own assets come to €236 million. The figure is cited in a letter dated October 13 signed by Energy Minister George Papanastasiou. He was responding to a query by Akel MP Irini Charalambidou.
The €236 million plus the assumed €757 million from the EU would have amounted to €993 million – still about €1 billion short of the price tag for the Cyprus to Crete segment of the cable.
The sources suggested to the Cyprus Mail that, after the transfer of the project to Greece, the Cyprus government may have “rid itself of a headache”.