Cyprus is shifting gear to end its energy isolation and it is uniquely positioned to contribute to the Eastern Mediterranean’s energy solutions, President Nikos Christodoulides said on Monday.
The president’s comments in Nicosia to key energy industry players were made as the government presents – and attempts to persuade – the sector with Cyprus’ planned gas pipeline with Israel.
Speaking just before the workshop, Energy Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou said he has “high hopes” for the meeting – a sentiment backed up by the president who said that interest from key players was high.
Christodoulides emphasised that the project, as part of the wider energy concerns facing Cyprus, is of the utmost priority for the government.
He explained it is centred on creating a pipeline from Israel to Cyprus to transport natural gas – meaning cheaper energy on the island – along with a facility which will liquefy the gas, therefore helping Israel export more of its product.
Speaking to reporters after the event, Christodoulides said: “This workshop shows just how seriously we are taking this and the importance of utilising natural gas – two and a half months after taking office we are showing a clear path ahead.”
“There are three main aspects to this: The first is the high cost of electricity at the internal level, the second is the EU’s efforts to decouple from Russian energy and the third is the prospects of the Eastern Mediterranean along with excellent relations that Cyprus has with its neighbours,” the president said.
Christodoulides added that new players – in addition to those who have already signed contracts – from both the energy and tech sectors also requested to join the event.
The president indicated that talks and preparations are at an advanced stage.
“From our first moment in office this government has made it a priority tor educe the cost of electricity for households and businesses, which will support the country’s competitiveness and therefore the economy’s sustainable development,” the presided added.
The Cyprus Gateway: Natural Gas to Power and Liquefaction workshop will last for two days, organised by the energy ministry, in collaboration with the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company (CHC).
The Sunday Mail spoke with Papanastasiou who explained that major shifts are underway but insists the project is viable.
“There are several reasons behind our pipeline proposal. First, we give priority to the inland market. Cyprus comes first. Second, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. It’s good to have an alternative option beyond Egypt. That doesn’t mean the Egypt option is being discarded, and Egypt definitely remains a useful partner. And third, with this proposal you attract Israel – a major geopolitical player,” he said.
The mooted East Med pipeline – 1,900-kilometres long – with a $6 billion price tag would have conveyed regional gas directly to Europe. The idea fell out of favour in recent years.
So far, five sizeable gas deposits have been discovered off Cyprus’ southern coastline. Israel has 11 such fields.
“The eastern Mediterranean has enough (gas) deposits. Most are inside Israel’s exclusive economic zone, but Cyprus has sufficient quantities as well for this project to materialise,” Papanastasiou explained earlier this month.
The minister told the Sunday Mail that the pipeline now being focused on is about 190km – adding “compare and contrast to the EastMed pipeline which would run for 1,900km”.