Cyprus Mail

Larnaca port decision will delay Total’s drilling plans, minister says (Updated: adds Neophytou)

Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis on Saturday said that the Larnaca municipal council’s rejection of the request of the hydrocarbon companies for the temporary extension of their stay at the town’s port would lead to the delay in Total’s exploratory drilling by three to four months.

On Monday, the council voted against allowing the operation of MedServ, whose support services were going to be used by energy giants Total and ENI.

The operation was opposed by residents who feared the port would be turned into an industrial hub with health and environmental risks.

Speaking at a conference in Limassol on Cyprus’ energy future on Saturday, Lakkotrypis said that Limassol could be the “permanent solution” to the problem for all three energy giants, Total, ENI and Noble.

The option will be put to the three companies at a meeting on Monday.

“It is important for us to find a permanent solution that will create a stable environment for companies to know where they will set up their operations,” Lakkotrypis said.

Commenting on whether the delay in Total’s exploratory drilling would cause any problems, Lakkotrypis said that each passing day was very important as regards the hydrocarbons exploratory programme but that the delay was manageable as long as a permanent solution was found.

He added that at Monday’s meeting he would urge the companies to prioritise hiring the people who are now working for them at Larnaca port who could lose their jobs.

The workers went out in protest on Thursday.

The minister rubbished remarks by DIKO boss Nicolas Papadopoulos that the government left the decision to the Larnaca council so that it could hide behind the delays as drillings tended to complicate the Cyprus problem talks.

It was mainly the opposition party councillors from opposition AKEL, DIKO and EDEK who voted against the company staying in Larnaca, which did not fit the conspiracy, ruling DISY leader Averof Neophytou said.

“In Cyprus for decades now irrationality prevails over logic,” he added.

With their decision, Neophytou said, beyond damaging the economy and Cyprus’ image, the parties had sent 100 families on to the unemployment line. He also blamed unions for their populism.

Neophytou said that he also found it “irrational” that the unions affiliated with the opposition parties encourage employees to criticise the government for the decision taken by the parties they are affiliated with.




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