Greece and Egypt will ink a preliminary deal to build a large electrical cable connecting the two countries on Thursday. It is the first such agreement to be signed between Europe and Africa in the southeastern Mediterranean.
The deal will be signed in Athens by Environment and Energy Minister Costas Skrekas and the Egyptian Minister of Electricity and RES, Mohamed Shaker. It will improve the region’s security of supply and increase cross-border energy exchanges.
The agreement will also allow the further development of renewable energy sources. Green energy is at the center of both countries’ policies. The Greek government has pledged to all but eliminate coal-based electricity in the next decade.
Egypt, which has a surplus of electricity, began talks a year ago to sell power to Europe. It pressed its advantage as a producer of cheap renewable energy in a bid to become a regional export hub.
Greece – Egypt agreement laid out in Cairo
The basis for the signing of the agreement was laid during the visit of PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Cairo in June. Minister Skrekas met with Shaker, and Egypt’s Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad and Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Tarek El Molla.
The three ministers discussed plans for an electrical interconnection of the two countries through a submarine cable. Egypt has also been in discussions with Greece and Cyprus in recent months to build a undersea cable linking the three countries.
The agreement in principle provides for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two ministries. The MoU could then develop into an Intergovernmental Agreement.
It is also planned to consider the prospect of integrating the project into the European Union Projects of Common Interest (PCI). In the context of the interconnection of the Trans-European Energy Networks, this will facilitate both the licensing and financing of the project.
New electricity agreement comes year after joint EEZ deal
The agreement comes just a week after Egypt’s signing of an $1.8 billion electrical connection project with Saudi Arabia. The Greek PM visited Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt last June.
Mitsotakis had stressed the need to avoid “new adventures in our neighborhood.” He was referring indirectly to the tensions caused by Turkey and its attempt to conduct gas exploration in Greek waters.
His visit came a year after a deal on the partial demarcation of maritime boundaries was signed between Greece and Egypt. It designated an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean, giving the two countries rights over natural resources in the region.
The agreement was inked as Mediterranean nations continue to grapple with ongoing incursions by Turkey into the EEZ’s of Cyprus and several Greek islands. Turkey has repeatedly sent its oil and gas drilling ships into the seas atop the continental shelves of Greece and Cyprus during the last two years.