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Eastern Mediterranean ‘very important’ to Europe’s energy security

European Commission vice-president and Energy Union Commissioner Maros Sefcovic

By Angelos Anastasiou

The Cyprus problem and the European Union’s energy agenda were the main topics discussed by President Nicos Anastasiades and European Commission vice-president and Energy Union Commissioner Maros Sefcovic on Monday.

Sefcovic, in Cyprus as part of his Energy Union tour, said the two men discussed the prospects of Cyprus’ reunification, as well as the EU and the Commission’s role in the negotiations.

He expressed the hope that the discovery of new reservoirs of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean region can catalyse bridge-building, noting that these should work in favour of the area and Cyprus.

“And I am sure this can also have a positive impact on the EU’s energy security,” he said.

The Energy Union commissioner said projects facilitating Cyprus connectivity with mainland Europe were also discussed.

“We are conducting feasibility studies for better electricity connection, and the prospects of natural gas connection,” he said.

Sefcovic said Cyprus could become a major partner in developing technology for renewable energy sources in northern Africa and the Middle East, where sunlight is found in abundance.

Responding to a question, the commissioner said there is a very strong possibility of exporting Cyprus’ natural gas, and that “Europe is the natural destination”.

Meanwhile, prior to his meeting with Anastasiades, Sefcovic kicked off his meetings with Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis, who said they discussed Cyprus’ contribution to Europe’s energy security, particularly with regard to natural gas sources and routes.

Also on the agenda were the issues of energy union, the introduction of renewable energy sources in the Cyprus electricity market, as well as the Cyprus projects included in the EU’s projects of common interest.

“We see the eastern Mediterranean as very important territory from the point of view of the energy security of Europe,” the Slovak commissioner said.

“I think we need to work very closely with Cyprus to do everything possible to develop it in the most intelligent and smart way to the benefit of the region but also for the improvement of the energy security of Europe.”

Asked whether he feels that natural gas could be transported to Europe in future, Sefcovic said that a lot will depend on future work on these finds.

“As we have seen, initial results are very promising,” he said.

“We are not talking about hundreds but about thousands of billions of cubic metres, and Europe’s annual natural gas consumption ranges between 400-500 million cubic metres.”

Therefore, he added, the eastern Mediterranean reserves are quite significant.

“The next question would depend on how big the gas discoveries really are, what is their potential and what is the most economical use for the region and for eventual transportation to Europe,” the commissioner said.

Sefcovic added that the Commission will unveil its new strategy on liquefied natural gas in February, in which Cyprus will feature as “one of the most important gateways for supply to Europe”.

“Therefore, I believe that, once properly developed, the eastern Mediterranean could become a very principal player on this,” he noted.

Lakkotrypis thanked the European commissioner for his support to Cyprus, which, he added, materialises in three projects of common interest, which the Commission has approved for the island.

The projects are the Euro-Asia Interconnector, a planned sub-sea cable to connect the electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece, the East Med pipeline, which aims to connect the region’s reservoirs with Greece through the island of Crete, and the lifting of obstacles to ending Cyprus’ energy isolation.

The EU-funded projects were included in the updated list of 195 projects of common interested, published last November.

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