articles | 28 January 2016

Energy Minister presents energy strategy in London

The Minister of Energy George Lakkotrypis presented the Cypriot government’s energy strategy at the prestigious ‘Middle East and North Africa Energy’ conference, an annual event organised in London by Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Relations.

During his speech, the Minister described the Eastern Mediterranean as a difficult region in terms of exploiting the natural gas reserves discovered there.

“I wish we could operate like in the North Sea,” commented Lakkotrypis in a comparison between the two very different circumstances. Nevertheless, he stressed that one of the fundamental targets of Cyprus’ strategy is to create “predictable” conditions in the area for companies to operate.

In this respect he pointed to the agreements and negotiations that Cyprus has initiated with countries such as Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Jordan, and with big international energy groups.

He announced that the new contract regarding the exploitation of Block 12 of the Aphrodite gas field in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), now involving BG Group (who acquired 35% of the rights held by Noble), will be signed on Wednesday in Nicosia. The deal recently got the approval of the Cabinet.

Turning his attention to the exploitation of the Cypriot natural gas, Lakkotrypis said that all options have been considered and concluded: “The most feasible and viable economic and technical option would be to export gas to Egypt, either for domestic consumption or/and for export.”

Experts present at the conference noted that the existence of a LNG terminal in Egypt operated by BG means that the group’s involvement in the Cypriot EEZ “improves the prospect of Cypriot gas being exported to Egypt.”

The Minister of Energy also said that 2015 was mainly marked by the discovery of the Zhor gas field in the Egyptian EEZ.

As he explained, the significance of the discovery lies not mainly with the size of the field, but its geological structure - it being the first discovery on carbonites and not on sand structures. The existence of similar geological structures in the surrounding area has renewed interest in exploitation in Eastern Mediterranean, said other speakers at the conference.

Responding to a question from a member of the audience – which consisted of energy experts and professionals- regarding Turkey’s role in the energy landscape being formed in the region, Lakkotrypis said that the question should be answered by Turkey itself.

He noted that Ankara has very turbulent relationships with Cyprus, Egypt and Israel, but added that the country could have an important role as a consumer and potentially as a hub if it decided to rise up to expectations.

As far as Cypriot gas is concerned, Turkey could potentially open up the opportunity for another export route after a possible settlement of the Cyprus issue, said the Minister.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, Lakkotrypis said that “The members of the discussion panel during the session concerning Cyprus pointed to the difficulties that exist in the wider eastern Mediterranean (with regard to gas exploitation); I myself referred to these difficulties in my presentation. It is not an easy region at all considering all the problems surrounding it. But both the panellists and the members of the audience to many of whom I spoke after the session, expressed their huge interest and their enthusiasm for the prospects opening up in the Eastern Mediterranean, despite all these difficulties.”

During his stay in London the Minister of Energy also held meetings with stakeholders that are already active or interested in the energy developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Source: Famagusta Gazette

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