By Angelos Anastasiou
EXPERTS and companies in the field of energy took part in the first regional meeting for collaboration on ‘Safety and Environmental Protection of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations in the Eastern Mediterranean’ in Nicosia yesterday.
The convention aimed at developing best practices in the field of safety and environmental protection of offshore oil and gas operations in Cyprus, and the Eastern Mediterranean and highlighted the role of Cyprus in this process.
Addressing the conference, Energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis pointed out that safety and the protection of the environment from offshore hydrocarbons activities are priority issues for Cyprus.
Lakkotrypis said a major accident relating to offshore oil and gas operations in the Mediterranean is likely to have significant impact on marine and coastal environment.
“This is a worst case scenario that we all need to be well prepared for,” he said.
“Particularly for Cyprus, as an island nation with a GDP that depends heavily on tourism, it is a scenario that in no way can be taken lightly.”
Speaking at the meeting, British High Commissioner Ric Todd said that the gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean have the potential to transform the economy of Cyprus and the region, and could also be an additional energy source for Europe, contributing to greater prosperity and security for all.
“We support Cyprus and the countries in the region in coming together to find ways of collaboration in a sector that is by its nature complex and technologically challenging,” he said.
Todd pointed out that health and safety issues are central to the way the industry operates, and noted that collaboration of all stakeholders was not just important, but absolutely necessary.
The High Commissioner pointed out that Energy minister Lakkotrypis’s presence demonstrated the importance the government places on matters of safety, security and environmental protection in developing its oil and gas resources.
The meeting was organised by the Department of Civil Engineering and Geomatics at Cyprus University of Technology and coordinated by CUT’s Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and chairman of the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company, Toula Onoufriou.
Prof. Onoufriou highlighted the potential for Cyprus to develop into a regional hub for energy by processing and exporting gas to Europe, thus contributing significantly to Europe’s energy security and facilitating collaborations with neighbouring countries at various levels.
At the same time, Cyprus could become a centre for education, training, research and technology development serving the region and Europe in key strategic technological areas for the future.
“Such developments will be of significant benefit for the country, the region and Europe,” Onoufriou said.
The meeting was attended by oil and gas companies operating in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the eastern Mediterranean, international experts on the issue, the Cypriot Government with the participation of seven ministries and the British High Commission that co-financed the meeting.