Cyprus’ strategic oil reserves are scheduled to be moved away from Larnaca’s refineries to the Vassilikos area by mid 2015, energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said on Tuesday.
Speaking after a meeting with the Larnaca municipal council at which he presented the government’s procedure and methodology employed in relocating oil reserves away from the city, Lakkotrypis said “the first step is moving the country’s reserves of liquid gas, and subsequently liquid fuel”.
Relocating Larnaca’s oil-based industry to Vassilikos was the subject of a cabinet decision in July 2014, in response to a long-standing demand by Larnaca residents.
Lakkotrypis added that this first step is “expected to be concluded within the first half of 2015 as the organisation for storage and management of oil stocks (KODAP) has ratified the tenders process to the successful bidder.
“The relocation of KODAP’s reserves from Larnaca to the Vassilikos area, in existing facilities, will proceed immediately,” he said.
Regarding the movement of liquid gas reserves, which he dubbed “a top priority for safety reasons”, the government aims at to clinch an agreement with private companies for the construction of their own facilities at the Vassilikos area “within this quarter”, the minister said.
“The master plan for the Vassilikos area has been completed, and there is a designated area that will host the liquid gas reserves – underground, for safety reasons – and we hope that in the coming weeks this deal will have been finalised as well,” Lakkotrypis said.
“We also expect the views of the private companies with regard to their liquid fuel stocks, whether they will construct their own facilities or take advantage of existing ones,” he added.
Asked whether it might be cheaper to channel the strategic oil reserves into the market and transport new reserves at Vassilikos, Lakkotrypis said this was an option.
“They could either be channelled to the market, with the purchase of new reserves to be transported straight to Vassilikos, or transported there by trucks or boats,” he said. “We are currently evaluating options to identify the most efficient one”.
Lakkotrypis said Cyprus will also maintain strategic oil reserves in Greece.
Larnaca mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis said the relocation plan “proves the government’s resolve in implementing the cabinet decision”.
He added that following the relocation of the strategic oil reserves, “deliberations will start on the issue of moving the liquid gas storage facilities, which is the most important issue in terms of the area’s safety, and the relocation of the private oil-storage facilities”.