By Elias Hazou
THIS week’s reshuffle of the boards of the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company (CHC) and the Natural Gas Public Company (DEFA) has received positive reviews from the media and from energy industry commentators.
The shakeup at the CHC (formerly the Cyprus National Hydrocarbons Company, or KRETYK by its Greek acronym) has seen the placement of persons with extensive academic and practical experience in the field.
The new appointees to the two corporations were approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday on the recommendation of the energy minister.
The CHC now comprises a board of seven non-executive directors; previously the directors were executive officers. The new board chairman is Toula Onoufriou, currently Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the Cyprus University of Technology.
Onoufriou has a strong academic background in the energy space, having obtained her PhD from Imperial College (UK) in Offshore Structures and a DIC in Structural Engineering with a Scholarship from Imperial College.
She worked in the offshore oil and gas industry as senior consultant and deputy head of the Advanced Analysis, Research and Development Department of Brown & Root. Onoufriou was awarded the Stanley Gray Award by the Institute of Marine Engineers UK for the best publication on marine technology.
She was also a member of the first expert advisory team advising the government on hydrocarbon developments. The team was appointed under the administration of Demetris Christofias.
Onoufriou was among a group of academics who endorsed Nikos Anastasiades’ candidacy for the 2013 presidential elections.
Another appointment to the CHC board is Mike Efthymiou. He obtained BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester, UK.
Efthymiou worked with Shell for 32 years in research & development, design of offshore platforms and project execution.
Given the government’s focus on a land-based LNG terminal, Eftymiou’s appointment is of particular interest due to his prior work on Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) projects.
Efthymiou is a former chief Shell engineer who played a significant role in the development of Shell’s revolutionary FLNG design, and developed patented FLNG technology.
The other appointees to the CHC board are: Constantinos Lycourgos, a senior counsel with the Attorney-general’s office who was involved in the first and second hydrocarbons licensing rounds; Giorgos Georgiades, a chartered accountant who worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers Cyprus and a consultant to GEPetrol, the national oil company of Equatorial Guinea;
Constantinos Nicolaou, with 30 years’ experience in hydrocarbons research and production and a former consultant for Energean Oil & Gas; Lena Mylona, employed since 2006 with JP ΚΕΝΝΥ/ΒΡ in Angola; and Theodoros Tsakiris, assistant professor for Geopolitics of Hydrocarbons at the University of Nicosia.
The appointments were welcomed by Charles Ellinas, former executive chairman of the (then) Cyprus National Hydrocarbons Company.
Like others, Ellinas said he had expected political appointees, chosen primarily on party affiliations, to be named.
“But I was pleasantly surprised…it’s a good start,” Ellinas told the Mail during a brief phone conversation.
The next step, he said, would be to hire executive staff and managers at the company, whose work had virtually come to a standstill in recent months in anticipation of the shakeup.
Changes are also afoot at DEFA. Eleni Vasiliadou has retained her position as head of the entity, as has board director Michalis Andreou.
The newcomers to the DEFA board are: Andreas Poulikas, formerly with the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC); Tasos Kounoudis; Symeon Kasianidis; Giorgos Pamboridis and Adam Lomas.
The four members of the EAC who previously sat on the DEFA board were not re-appointed, apparently part of government policy to dilute the links between the two entities.
The Cabinet has revoked a prior decision which gave the EAC a 44 per cent stake in DEFA. As a result, the company is now 100 per cent state-owned. A public-law entity governed by private law, DEFA is the sole importer and distributor of natural gas in Cyprus.