Cyprus’ final decision over whether to stump up the required €100 million to partake in the Great Sea Interconnector is still pending, Energy Minister George Papanastasiou said on Tuesday.

The government has been urged for months by stakeholders to make a decision on whether it will participate in the interconnector project which will connect the electricity grids of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel, but Papanastasiou has insisted that the government’s decision will be made only following the submission of a cost-benefit analysis.

He had requested the analysis from Greece’s Independent Power Transmission Operator (Admie) in April, and initially expected to take receipt of it by the end of May but has now said he expects it to be submitted by the end of June.

Once the analysis has been submitted, he said, he will evaluate its results with various agencies in Cyprus as well as a “specialised recognised” body from abroad.

“Once we have the results and so long as these results will be positive towards making a final decision, the Republic of Cyprus will decide whether to enter the project’s equity capital,” he said.

He added that once the government has formally signed up to the project, “it will be able to contribute to decisions around the infrastructure’s operation, which directly concerns the Cypriot consumer.”

With this in mind, he said a project such as the Great Sea Interconnector, “with a timescale of 30 to 40 years, has so many challenges and many assumptions have to be made”.

“Based on these assumptions, studies are carried out and evaluated. The assumptions may be wrong, and there are certainly challenges and concerns, but this is no different to any other grand project,” he added.

With this in mind, he pointed out that the European Commission has already designated the interconnector as a “project of common interest”, as Cyprus is the only European Union member state of which the electricity grid is not interconnected with that of the other member states.

Delving into specifics of the planned deal, he said the Cypriot consumer will pay for 63 per cent of the interconnector, while the Greek consumer will pay for the remaining 37 per cent.

He added that the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority (Cera) will decide when this cost can begin to be recovered and said the government will “tread carefully” on this matter given the ongoing cost of living crisis.

He went on to say that the EU’s Connecting Europe facility also funded part of the project, and that the planned total eventual cost of the project had been uprated from €1.5 billion to €1.9bn since 2017.

In addition, he said a €100m gap in funding had been identified, and that the government had asked Admie to submit written recommendations for how it would recover the revenue.

However, despite the issues, he pointed out that 50 kilometres worth of cables have already been constructed in Crete, and their laying will be subject to a survey of the seabed on which it will be laid, which will take place within the next two months. He added that the cable in and of itself will cost €1.4bn.

Cyprus’ indecision regarding its participation or not in the interconnector project has not gone down well in Greece, with Greek Energy Minister Theodoros Skylakakis having warned Cyprus against missing deadlines.

He said the funds freed up from the Connecting Europe facility will not be on the table forever, and nor will an extra €100m pledged through the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility.

“The case is that we took on a serious responsibility together with the Cypriot side, after the Commission had evaluated the project and had given us a huge investment in this project,” he said.

“If this investment is lost, the chance of Cyprus being connected to the rest of Europe, and of the entire cable being realised, will be dramatically reduced.”

He added, “that is something which the Cypriot government will also have to evaluate.”

He went on to say that his government’s responsibility is to protect Greek consumers and taxpayers, and seemed to indicate that his government’s patience may be running out with Cyprus.

He said Greece “has shown a surplus of good will on this matter to help to try to not lose this project,” and emphasised again the possibility that the whole project may fall apart if Cyprus does not make a decision.

However, he made indications that he will not be willing to wait for ever for Cyprus to come to a decision, saying “our final analysis will be based on our most important responsibility – to the Greek consumers and taxpayers.”

“For Greece, this project is positive as it facilitates a balancing of our electricity network, but it is not a critical project. Greece is not an island, in energy terms,” he added.

He ended by repeating that “it must be absolutely clear that if the funding from the European Commission is lost, the probability of this project ever being carried out will be reduced dramatically.”