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Energy Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Lakko spins his gas-filled yarns

Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis hypes Cyprus gas riches

By Patroclos

COMMERCE, Industry, Energy and Tourism minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis will soon have spun more myths than Aesop. The only difference would be that in contrast to Aesop, his myths and fables are pretty one-dimensional, offering the same moral lesson every time which is – when you sell hot air you eventually get found out.

Not that this has persuaded Lakkotrypis from exiting the fantasy world he has been living in since becoming minister. On the contrary, the unfailingly positive press he receives thanks to his youthful good looks and the authoritative tone of his voice, has made him think he can carry on feeding us with his unnatural gas yarns forever.

He started by asserting that the government would build a gas liquefaction plant, that would cost about €10 billion at a time when the state was bankrupt and only the troika would lend it money. There was also the minor matter of us not having the quantities of gas to make such a huge investment viable, but Lakkotrypis has never allowed rationality get in the way of a good yarn.

Then he peddled the myth about joint exploitation with Israel of our natural gas resources which the Israelis never gave a serious thought to. He even told us about the grand idea of building a pipeline to take our tiny quantities of gas to Greece, as if there was any company in the world insane enough to undertake such a project. But it was ambitious, pandered to nationalistic sentiment so nobody commented about the big dose of stupidity it contained.

BIG HOPES that he would deliver on his Egypt promises – he had once said the Egyptians were so desperate to secure gas they were ready for a purchase contract – were dashed at the end of August when Italian energy giant ENI found massive quantities of natural gas (10 times what Kyproulla had found in the Aphrodite plot) in Egypt’s EEZ.

It was a shame because some 10 days before the find Lakko had announced that the study about the transportation of gas from Aphrodite to Egypt would be ready in a few days. Yet after the find Lakko informed us that he had contacted his Egyptian counterpart and, he reportedly said that plans to transport gas from Kyproulla to the land of the Pharaohs remained on track. This was as likely as Saudi Arabia buying crude oil from Kuwait.

I am sure Lakko was not telling lies, but I suspect his Egyptian counterpart was crediting him with as much naivety as he credits the Cypriot public.

WHAT you cannot help but admire in the man is his persistence with the myth-making that verges on the heroic. Last Sunday he told Kathimerini in an interview that after the massive find at Egypt’s Zohr gas field there was a Plan B.

Rather than laying a pipeline from Aphrodite all the way to Egypt, we would lay one to Zohr, which was only 90km away and from there our gas would be transported to Egypt in the Zohr pipeline. He told the paper that he had discussed this alternative with – believe it or not – his Egyptian counterpart.

The counterpart must have told Lakko that he would ask ENI to allow the use of its pipeline to pump a little Cypriot gas to Egypt as long as we get the gas to Zohr. The only snag is that Zohr will not be ready by 2018, the year Lakko had said we could start selling gas to Egypt, assuming his counterpart ever signs the purchase contract.

By Monday, Lakko found a new straw to clutch. ENI had announced it was discussing with the Egyptian government the possibility of setting up an energy hub in the Eastern Med for the transit of natural gas within the region. On Tuesday he told reporters that ENI’s gas hub would include Kyproulla, which put paid to another one of his grand plans – to make Kyproulla a regional energy centre.

Instead of being the hub we were now desperate to be part of someone else’s hub.
The good news was that he did not hear this from his Egyptian counterpart, but from the CEO of ENI, who, at a meeting he had with Prez Nik, said the company’s “vision for the region includes Cyprus”. Only time will show whether Lakko has finally got something right, but I would not bet on it.

SOCIALIST dermatologist and leader of EDEK Dr Sizopoulos was unable to keep his cool after the report in Politis that he had been importing cosmetic drugs from Greece – Botox and Dysport – that were not licensed in Cyprus and using them to treat his patients.

The revelation was made by pharmaceuticals saleswoman who was bringing the medicine from Greece in her suitcase for Sizopoulos, who explained, with the moral superiority he discusses every issue, that he had not broken any law as doctors are allowed to bring in drugs from any EU country for their patients. Selling these was not permitted.

He even found the opportunity to boast about his pioneering spirit. “I am, in fact, the first dermatologist to have used Botox in Cyprus, since 1999.” What a pity that the names for the Nobel Prize for medicine have already been submitted.

SIZOPOULOS, I am certain is innocent, but this story will not be good for his image. A doctor who makes money out of cosmetic treatment, catering to people’s vanity, cannot have any credibility as a socialist leader and a warrior for freedom.

You just cannot take seriously the revolutionary, socialist credentials of someone who offers Botox treatment to the vain rich, wasting his qualifications on useless branch of medicine rather than on helping poor people with serious health problems.

Che Guevara was also a doctor and a socialist like Sizo but he would never have given Botox treatment if it existed in his time. I wonder what Sizo’s mentor and Che admirer, Dr Faustus thinks about all this? Being vain and rich, has he ever gone to his protégé for some Botox?

WE HAVE to show some respect to Sizo for turning this ridiculous affair into an excuse for advertising his courage and defiance. The story was part of a plot to silence him by political rivals, he claimed before heroically stating:

“This voice that speaks will not be silenced; I state it openly: if some seek conflict and war, they will get it. I do not give in and I do not back down and they should know this very well by now. What they must understand is that I, too, have information on many others.”

This threat to retaliate by throwing dirt on others has been used by every Cypriot politician when he is under a bit of pressure and has become rather boring, especially as the threat is never carried out. But the real negative for Sizo is that people will realise that his real expertise is Botox and not the liberation of Kyrenia.

WITH ELECTIONS only six months away, the legislature is become more absurd by the day. Last Monday several deputies of the House ethics committee were indignantly slamming the Central Bank because it had failed to provide data about the transfer of money abroad in March 2013 just before the haircut of deposits.

The Central Bank embarrassed them by announcing that it had provided this data, the last time the committee had discussed the matter, more than a year ago. Chairman of the committee Nicos Nicolaides, member of the Botox party, tried to cover up the stupidity by claiming the data on the lists provided needed processing. There were no ID numbers next to the names, he said. Why did they need ID numbers?

Was he going to pass the information on to his leader Sizo so he could use it against those who tried to harm him?

THE BEST story from the legislature was the submission of the DISY bill for raising the threshold for party entry to parliament to 5 per cent. All the small parties like the Greens, EVROKO, Alliance of Lillikas that would be excluded from parliament if the new threshold was introduced, were on the warpath claiming this was an attack on democracy and liberty.

The truth is Kyproulla would not be any less democratic if Perdikis, Syllouris and Lillikas were excluded from the House. In fact our establishment would support the raising of the threshold to 10 per cent because then EDEK and DIKO would also fail to get a seat, which would be a great triumph for our democracy.

THE NEW Sunday paper Reporter came out last Sunday. I did not see it but it featured an interview with Prez Nik that was picked up by other media. The first issue of a paper and it featured an interview with Nik, who has been interviewed to death by all the papers several times and is in the news every single day airing his views. Do we need another paper to carry interviews with the president?

However I am grateful to the Reporter website because it carried photographs of two weddings that took place last weekend. It had a picture from the wedding ceremony of Eleni Theocharous’ daughter Julie. More interestingly there were a couple of photos from the wedding of AKEL deputy Nicos Katsourides, who has done very well for himself. The new wife is too pretty, too young and too elegant for the short, chubby commie, though he certainly has a well-preserved face for his 63 years. I wonder whether he has ever visited Sizo’s clinic?

YOU HAD to laugh at the study prepared about the privatisation of the Electricity Authority by energy and environment consultants Exergia SA. It recommended exactly what Nik’s government had been suggesting as a compromise to the EAC’s unions which are totally against privatisation.

Exergia suggested that the authority would be split into two companies in which the state would have the controlling state. The minority shareholding and management would be given to the private sector. This is the same ownership model that led Cyprus Airways to bankruptcy.
What are the chances of finding any investors prepared to spend their millions to go into partnership, as the minority partner, with the government, the political parties and the unions?

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