By Stelios Orphanides
Transport minister Marios Demetriades said that a June 2014 cabinet decision which provides that hydrocarbon companies would have to leave Larnaca this year remained in place and only another decision of the same body can overturn it as the political balance in the town’s municipal council remained fragile.
Demetriades, speaking on state radio on Wednesday, two days after an acrimonious session of the Larnaca municipal council, from which councillors favouring the departure of the oil companies from the port walked out, said that suitable place at the Limassol port for French energy giant Total “has been found”.
“I told companies that there is planning for Limassol and they may go there and look at the space which they can use for their operations,” he said. “We are going ahead based on this planning and any other decision will have to be taken by the council of ministers”.
Larnaca Mayor Andreas Louroutziatis scheduled another vote on Monday, after a change in the municipal council’s composition, raised hopes that the February 8 decision to evict oil companies from the town’s port, could be overturned. The walkout by opposition party deputies meant there was no quorum.
Demetriades said that the government continued to look at the situation adding that the Limassol port had many areas which could host Italy’s ENI and the American Noble Energy and a technical committee has been set up for this purpose.
Even after Louroutziatis asked the oil companies to continue using the Larnaca port following the chaotic council meeting on Monday, the situation could again change, said the minister.
“But let me raise this question which may serve as food for thought,” Demetriades said. “What is going to happen should a local councillor be elected opposing the presence of installations in Larnaca? Are we going to have this decision overturned?”
“We all have to realise that companies are not ping-pong (balls) to be subjected to the changing whims and decisions of a municipal council,” Demetriades said.