The Larnaca municipal council announced on Tuesday that it would take legal action against the irregular renewal of the permits for energy giant Noble and oil and gas services company Medserv to continue to use storage facilities at the town’s port.
It said when the two companies had their permits to use Larnaca port facilities renewed last month legal procedures were bypassed, while the same happened a year ago.
“The renewal of the permits in question was done with the consent of the transport ministry as it was deemed that it does not affect the procedure and government plans for the redevelopment of the Larnaca port,” the municipal council said in an announcement.
The council expressed its discontent over the renewal, which, it said, was under the same terms and preconditions as a year ago, while the companies would use the facilities for storage purposes only.
It said that it would take legal measures against these actions, as “the legal procedures were not followed a year ago for granting permission to the companies Noble and Medserv (Cyprus) Ltd to use facilities of the port as well as for the renewal of these permits”.
The Larnaca municipality was never informed of the permit renewal, the council said, despite it sending a letter to the Ports Authority (CPA) asking for a briefing.
It added that it would also send letters to complain to the transport minister and the Cyprus Ports Authority for these actions without informing the municipal council.
Energy companies were told last year that they had to move their support base to Limassol after the Larnaca municipal council voted against extending the permit for Medserv’s facilities at the town’s port.
Medserv provides oil and gas exploration support services out of the port. Larnaca residents feared the port would be turned into an industrial hub with all the attendant health and environmental risks.
Larnaca municipality’s decision to reject a request to extend the operation of MedServ angered those directly involved and caused widespread disappointment in the industry, even more so as the move was ‘respected’ by the government.
The government decided at the time not to override the municipality’s decision, amid speculation it did not wish to antagonise Larnaca’s residents in the run up to last year’s parliamentary elections.
Energy companies however, prefer to have their onshore support base at Larnaca as the water depth is more than sufficient for support vessels to wade into the harbor, and the port is nowhere near as congested as that in Limassol.