Cyprus Mail

Oil and gas services company suing govt for €150m in port dispute- report

Photo: CNA

EDT, an oil and gas services company operating out of Limassol port is suing the government for 150 million euros for damages suffered as a result of acts or omissions by the minister of transport and others in connection with the privatisation of the port, it was reported on Sunday.

Citing an article in left-wing Haravghi newspaper, the Cyprus News Agency said that according to the reported lawsuit, the company said that since October 2016 it was being given assurances from the transport ministry and the minister, Marios Demetriades, that developments regarding the privatisation of the port would “not cause any disturbance to the functioning of the work of our company “.

The report also alleges that the ministry, through the Cyprus Ports Authority, were coming up with such ultimatums that it essentially closed the door to dialogue on other options to resolve outstanding issues, though it was not stated what those were. It mentioned that it was the company’s responsibility to protect the jobs of 300 people and that the government would have to make good on agreements it had made.

“The company believes that it has suffered huge losses as a result of acts or omissions by the transport minister, the ministry of transport, the ports authority and the companies with whom they have concluded agreements as part of the privatisation of the port.

Commenting to Haravghi, the permanent secretary of the ministry Alecos Michaelides said the company was insisting on some positions about which the ministry could do nothing as the port is now managed other outfits.

In early October 2016, French giant Total and EDT signed a contract where the latter would provide the former onshore logistics services out of the port of Limassol supporting Total’s drilling programme

In the meantime, the marine services concession at the port of Limassol – after it was privatised – was granted to a partnership comprising P&O Maritime and G.A.P. Vassilopoulos for the next 15 years.

But the concession, granted by the ports authority, included a monopoly clause in favour of the concessionaires.
EDT’s facilities, which will serve as an onshore support base for Total’s drilling operations, lie in the government-retained areas of the port, administered by the ports authority.

Nevertheless, the concession agreement entered into by the government and the private concession holders held that any activity relating to oil and gas at the port would need to go through the concessionaires – including if those activities took place in the government-retained areas.

Apparently this complication came to the transport ministry’s attention belatedly.

Eventually EDT and P&O Maritime came to an arrangement, allowing the former to operate an onshore logistics base until the end of 2018.

The deal provides that by then EDT has to dismantle a floating platform it has at the site.

“Effectively, DP World and P&O Maritime are seeking to shut out anyone from providing services in the government-retained areas of the port, and to double-dip into the oil and gas activity,” a source told the Cyprus Mail some ten months ago.

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