By Peter Stevenson
THE government has excluded National Hydrocarbons Company KRETYK from any negotiations regarding Cyprus’ natural gas in its attempts to dissolve the company according to former commerce Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis.
This followed KRETYK’s executive vice-chairman, Solon Kassinis on Friday announcing his intention to resign. His exclusion from a team appointed last week by the cabinet to negotiate with Cyprus’ US and Israeli partners on the development of natural gas within Block 12 was the main reason, he explained.
AKEL party member Sylikiotis said he believed the beginning of the end was when the government decided to cancel the previous cabinet’s decision to give the hydrocarbons company permission to make arrangements for the development of Cyprus’ natural gas.
“The government then went ahead and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Noble, DELEK and AVNER essentially bypassing KRETYK who had been preparing the plan since February,” he said.
The former minister added that Kassinis’ comments confirmed the fact that the government’s actions are leading to the national company’s exclusion and will create significant delays in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and the utilisation of natural gas.
According to Sylikiotis, 2019 is no longer the latest possible date that an LNG terminal could be built, with some sources, he claimed, stating it could happen in 2020 or later.
He accused the government of delaying the process, making it more difficult for the economy to recover.
“The investment of several billion euros, mainly from the companies involved, and the creation of thousands of jobs over the next two to three years will be able to push the economy back on the road to recovery,” he said.
He called on the government to think twice and allow KRETYK to proceed with an international tender for hiring financial and legal consultants of international stature and allow the company to proceed in negotiations with companies to conclude a final agreement on the creation of a terminal.
He added that KRETYK, in cooperation with the other companies, should be assigned to overseeing all of the work that has been included in the agreements made with the government. Sylikiotis explained that assigning state-run companies to oversee procedures dealing with the exploitation of natural gas is common practice in the majority of countries around the world.
“We will support the government, if they proceed this way, so that with all of our efforts we can give hope to the people following the discovery of important natural wealth that exists in our exclusive economic zone,” he concluded.
By Peter Stevenson