By Loucas Charalambous
LAST TUESDAY the general manager of Noble Energy (Cyprus) John Tomich put an end to the fairytale about the construction of a LNG terminal in Cyprus – a fairy-tale that had been served to the people of this country by all our political wizards in the last three years.
Speaking at The Economist conference in Nicosia, Tomich surprised our politicians and journalists by stating that the quantities of gas found did not justify the construction of a liquefaction terminal on land or sea. This served as another reminder of the incompetence and superficiality of all our politicians.
Anyone with common sense would have known from the start that the ‘terminal’ was a fantasy. This column had explained a while back that the prohibitive cost of liquefaction plant (in excess of €12 billion) as well as the hug cost of liquefying and de-liquefying would render such an enterprise unviable even if much bigger quantities of gas were found.
Funnily enough, immediately after Tomich’s announcement, the government rushed to confirm the disappointing news. The government spokesman said that from the results of the drilling, with regard to the quantities of natural gas in the Cypriot EEZ the construction of a liquefaction terminal was not viable.
Tomich made it clear that the only option for selling the gas was through pipelines to neighbouring countries. This will cause our super-patriots to froth with rage as it would re-introduce the nightmare scenario of a pipeline to Turkey.
We all remember the rampant demagoguery by our politicians about the natural gas which they present as our weapon against the Troika. Giorgos Lillikas has surpassed everyone in the populism stakes, even presenting a plan for the advance sale of gas in 2013 that would have supposedly netted us €10 billion and we would not have needed to borrow money from the Troika.
I also remember their declarations that the operation of the terminal would have created 10,000 jobs. On June 26, 2013, the government pompously announced that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed in Nicosia for the construction of the first Terminal for the Liquefaction of Natural Gas in the Vassiliko area.
We should note that as recently as last Wednesday, after Tomich’s spoiler and the government spokesman’s confirmation, commerce minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis ensured the fairytale was kept alive, saying that the government “is keeping all options open.” In other words, this mockery will continue.
I mention this story because the development comes to confirm the conclusion we arrive at based on all other things happening in our country these days – that we should not expect anything good or positive from the people running this state, which has been going from bad to worse.
It is no coincidence that the achievements of our leaders, in the case of the natural gas, are no different from those on all other issues. We would have been surprised if there was a difference. It would have been foolish to expect those who have made a complete mess of the Cyprus problem, leading us gradually to partition, would have done any better on a complex issue like hydrocarbons.
It would have been equally foolish to expect those who led us to political bankruptcy not to have also led the economy to bankruptcy. It is common sense. The incompetent are incompetent at everything, just as the corrupt are corrupt at everything.
We are forced to contend with ignorant, inadequate and ruthless people, as has been proved by their deeds which are now being dealt with by the courts. Their achievements never go beyond demagoguery and fairytales with which they deceive people so that they become popular and gather votes.
They are extremely good at this, as has been shown in the case of the hydrocarbons, for which the worst is yet to come, especially now that President Anastasiades has decided to dress up as a Greek warrior.