The contracts with the company providing services to French energy giant Total, scheduled to drill for gas later this year, will be signed in July, Transport Minister Marios Demetriades said on Saturday.
According to Demetriades, at the moment there is a tender competition for companies to provide services to Total, which has agreed to relocate from Larnaca to Limassol port.
The government has been trying to convince the hydrocarbon companies, interested in drilling for natural gas off Cyprus, ENI, Noble and Total, to relocate to Limassol, after the Larnaca municipal council decided in February not to extend the stay of MedServ, the company providing support services to ENI and Total.
The operation was opposed by residents who feared the port would be turned into an industrial hub with health and environmental risks.
Demetriades told the Sunday Mail that Total has agreed to move to Limassol port, and that the contract with the company that is to provide services to the energy giant is to be signed in July.
He along with Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis had met with representatives of all three hydrocarbon companies following Larnaca’s decision to oust them, in a bid to convince them to move operations to Limassol.
Last month, Demetriades had said that the Limassol port had many areas which could host Italy’s ENI and American Noble Energy and a technical committee has been set up for this purpose.
In March, a meeting at the Larnaca municipal council attempting to overturn the decision to evict oil companies from the town’s port, with the scheduling of another vote on the issue, resulted in a walkout by opposition party deputies.
Following the incident, Demetriades had said that “companies are not ping-pong (balls) to be subjected to the changing whims and decisions of a municipal council”, and that even if the decision was reversed, there was no guarantee that the next elected municipal council would not ask the companies to leave again.
Limassol is deemed the safer choice for hydrocarbon companies to set up operations, as the town’s mayor himself welcomed the idea of the port hosting them. Larnaca on the other hand, would like to focus more on tourism growth. Pressure groups have also called for the removal of Halliburton and Schlumberger, two of the world’s largest oilfield services companies, which chose Aradippou/Kalo Chorio industrial area as their base of operations for the eastern Mediterranean.