By Stefanos Evripidou
THE DISCOVERY of hydrocarbons in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) widens the potential for the country’s shipping industry, creating new synergies of cooperation, said Communications and Works Minister Marios Demetriades on Friday.
Speaking at the 2nd Cyprus Shipping Forecast Forum, the minister said hydrocarbons creates new prospects for Cyprus and its economy: “These new developments widen the horizons of our shipping industry, creating relevant synergies. The discovery of hydrocarbons places new challenges on our shipping industry.
“Offshore exploration and production of gas and oil, as well as their transportation ashore, require the operation of specialised ships and equipment and the supply of specialised supporting services,” he said.
Demetriades added that many Cyprus-based shipping companies are keen to be involved in the industry. Some have already taken the step to broaden their services and activities.
The government anticipates foreign shipping companies will relocate their offices and operations to Cyprus in order to explore the benefits of the emerging eastern Mediterranean offshore market, he said.
The minister highlighted the government’s commitment to maintaining Cyprus’ leading role in the world shipping scene through continuous development and growth.
“Shipping is a significant pillar of our economy in its capacity to act as a wide gateway of foreign investments to our island and this is of crucial importance on Cyprus’ path towards economic recovery,” he said.
His ministry will continue to improve and update the incentives offered to shipping entrepreneurs, while exploring new incentives to ensure Cyprus’ competitiveness as a ship management and shipping centre, said Demetriades.
Regarding piracy activity in the high risk areas of the Indian Ocean and West Africa, the minister said the Department of Merchant Shipping has prepared comprehensive new legislation to counteract unlawful acts against Cyprus-flagged ships.
The new legislation establishes a legal framework allowing the use of private armed personnel on board Cyprus-flagged vessels, for when they sail through high risk areas.
Forum Chairman and Chief Maritime Analyst at IHS Maritime UK, Richard Clayton, said despite sceptics who doubted the determination and resolve of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, Cyprus continues to punch above its weight as a ship register and ship management cluster.
“It does so because this community shows a commitment to the industry that has little to do with size and much to do with professionalism,” he said.
Clayton said after meeting with the minister on Thursday, he was impressed by his vision for the shipping industry.