THE House on Friday approved regulations that allow the government to extend the licenses of companies exploring for hydrocarbons inside the island’s exclusive economic zone under certain conditions.
As the law stands, licensed energy companies are granted an initial three years to complete their exploratory programme; this may be extended twice by the government, each time by two years, for a total maximum of seven years.
The bill tabled by the government granted the cabinet discretionary powers to extend the overall period beyond seven years, provided the concession holder files a substantiated request two months prior to expiry.
An amendment tabled by Akel and the Green party to restrict the extensions to three years was rejected. Green Party leader Giorgos Perdikis said the new regulations did not specify a maximum extension time period. Ruling Disy MP Andreas Kyprianou said exceptionally important national reasons dictated granting extensions.