By Elias Hazou
FACE-to-face talks between the government and Noble Energy on the construction and operation of an LNG plant are finally back on track.
A government-appointed negotiating team – which includes the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company – was set to hold meetings with the Texas-based firm on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.
The negotiations between the government and the Block 12 partners – Noble, Delek and Anver – are aimed at concluding a final project agreement for an LNG terminal.
Talks were to all intents and purposes suspended in November when Noble decided to allow the government time to make up its mind on several issues relating to the onshore LNG facility.
One such question concerns the degree of the state’s participation in financing. In fact the talks with Noble broke at around the same time the government received a report advising that the facility should remain exclusively in the hands of private investors.
Gas Strategies, a London-based consultancy, outlined for the government three main options regarding the LNG project, by order of preference: complete absence of the state from the multi-billion investment; holding a minority stake in the joint venture; and retaining a controlling interest.
Cyprus is already behind schedule. Back in June 2013, the government signed a preliminary, non-binding agreement or MoU with the Block 12 partners for developing an LNG plant at Vassilikos on the southern coast.
That deal was the first in a series needed for the implementation of the LNG project. A target date of December 31, 2013 had then been fixed for the completion and signing of a final project agreement, which was to set up a joint venture between the parties – a special-purpose vehicle – seeking investors for the multi-billion euro facility.
Noble is planning to drill a second well in its Block 12 concession later this year.
Noble reps will meanwhile be attending as guests a Search and Rescue (SAR) exercise, codenamed Nemesis 2014, taking place Thursday.
Participating in the drill are SAR units and personnel from Cyprus, Israel, Greece, and the United States of America.
The aeronautical exercise scenario deals with a serious accident in open sea within an area where oil and gas rigs are operating along with their supporting vessels.
Training exercises will focus on MEDEVAC and SAR operations, confronting of maritime pollution, asymmetric threats and associated security issues that might arise either on cargo or passenger ships and/or platforms in the Eastern Mediterranean.