President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday voiced concern over delays in bringing natural gas to Cyprus, asking that the project be stepped up.

The issue was discussed with Nicos Castellani, the new president of Defa (natural gas public company). The meeting, attended by the energy and finance ministers, aimed to set priorities for the arrival of natural gas to Cyprus and the infrastructure projects.

The LNG project in Vasiliko has been described as the single largest energy project ever undertaken in Cyprus.The switch from heavy fuel to natural gas is expected to help Cyprus meet its commitment to reducing greenhouse gases and lead to cheaper power, partly as a result of lower EU penalties.

Castellani briefed Anastasiades on progress made with infrastructure development which is being carried out by Defa subsidiary Etyfa (natural gas infrastructure company).

An official announcement said the president was informed that due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is an anticipated nine-month delay, caused by restrictions on movement of people and the reduced availability of raw materials. As a result, as previously announced, the project will not be completed until July 2023.

The project, co-financed by the EU through its Connecting Europe Facility, is currently close to completion of the planning stage.

Authorities announced last autumn that construction work had started on the ship Etyfa Promitheas, the vessel that will serve as a Floating, Storage, Regasification Unit (FSRU), which will convert liquefied natural gas (LNG) into the fuel’s gaseous form to be burned for electrical power generation.

Once delivered, the ship will berth off Vasilikos. Upgrades will allow the ship to also operate as an LNG carrier, able to navigate across the globe. Construction of the vessel is at an advanced stage, the announcement said and the vessel is already listed on the Cyprus ship register.

The contract for the LNG terminal, awarded to China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering, involves the ship (FSRU), the docking pier, and the pipeline to the power station.