Cyprus Mail

MPs give minister two weeks to decide on fuel tank removal

Lawmakers on Tuesday again discussed delays in the planned relocating of petroleum tanks and related infrastructure from the Larnaca seafront to Vasilikos, Limassol.

Present at the discussion in parliament was the mayor of Larnaca as well as representatives of oil companies.

Speaking to the press later, chair of the House energy and commerce committee Andreas Kyprianou said parliament is doing its part but at the end of the day the relocation is a political decision – meaning the government.

MPs decided to give newly instated Energy Minister Natasa Pilides two weeks to become acquainted with the matter before summoning her to parliament.

“We expect that at the next committee session a final decision will be made regarding the process, so that the petrol infrastructures can be moved in a completely secure way,” Kyprianou said.

Legislators also expect the new minister will brief them on the relocation timetables going forward.

The key stumbling block lies in a dispute between the Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA) and the fuel companies; the latter want their tanks in Vasilikos to be supplied at the existing harbour there.

By contrast, and going with a study compiled by foreign consultants, the CPA says the relocated fuel depots should be serviced by ships at a different location nearby, to be constructed specifically for that purpose.

The joint venture of Vlpg Plant Ltd – comprising Petrolina, Intergaz and Synergas – previously asked the ministry that they be allowed to receive liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) shipments inside the port of Vasilikos.

They argue that building a new anchorage point elsewhere in Limassol would drive up costs.

Until recently neither the fuel companies nor the CPA were willing to budge.

But Kyprianou hinted on Tuesday that the two sides could break the deadlock and come to a compromise agreement.

Meanwhile the town of Larnaca is anxious to be rid of the fuel tanks dotting the coastline, paving the way for the commercial development and the building of a mooted marina there.

Disy MP for Larnaca Annita Demetriou reiterated that the relocation of the depots is already behind schedule, in small part due to the coronavirus situation.

Back in June 2018 then Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis submitted a signed memorandum of understanding to the cabinet between the government and six private companies for the removal from Larnaca of the fuel storage facilities.

According to the minister, a timetable had been fixed with a deadline of December 31, 2019 for moving the liquid fuels, and for the creation of LPG facilities by December 31, 2020.

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