By Stefanos Evripidou
FORMER ENERGY chief Solon Kassinis last night handed in his resignation to the President as executive vice-chairman of the Cyprus National Hydrocarbons Company (CNHC), departing with a warning shot that others would follow him out the door.
Kassinis was invited to a 6pm meeting at the Presidential Palace by President Nicos Anastasiades after threatening to quit last week.
Speaking after a 50-minute meeting with Anastasiades, Kassinis told reporters that the president thanked him for his contribution to the energy sector and “understood” that he was right about a Norwegian study which highlights the need to reorganise the CNHC.
Kassinis said he would not stand in the government’s way regarding its energy plans and so insisted on submitting his resignation. It was not clear last night whether the president accepted his resignation.
He also warned that his colleagues in the CNHC would follow suit.
“I am aware that the non-executives have already or plan on submitting their resignations to the minister and that my colleague Stavros Stavrou, another executive vice-chairman, will also do so.”
According to sources, the outspoken official feels snubbed at being left out of a team appointed earlier this month by cabinet to negotiate with Noble Energy and other companies on the earliest possible supply of natural gas from offshore block 12 and the construction of an LNG plant as soon as possible.
The same sources said a number of directors at CNHC feel sidelined and are concerned about the company’s future, after the energy ministry stripped it of some of its key powers, and has let it operate on a shoestring budget.
The ministry continues to sit on a Norwegian law firm’s study into the energy sector which recommends that CNHC and the Natural Gas Public Company (DEFA) be merged and moreover that CNHC should be the ‘command vehicle’ for the LNG project in Cyprus.