Energy Minister George Papanastasiou on Saturday stated that both the Cypriot government and Chevron are highly optimistic that they will come to a mutually accepted plan over the Aphrodite gas field in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The minister noted that “natural gas should start being extracted by approximately 2027 or 2028”.

Responding to journalists’ questions on the sidelines of an event focused on energy cost reduction, organised by the Energy, Commerce, and Industry Policy Group of the Democratic Party (Diko), Papanastasiou said that letters exchanged between the two parties are not final, but rather obligations stemming from the agreement.

“Some things need to be put in writing, but many things are being discussed through consultations. There is serious progress in the discussions. Both parties understand each other’s standpoint, and I believe we are moving towards something positive,” he explained.

The minister continued by saying that “the Republic of Cyprus’ intention is to further listen to the consortium, essentially represented by Chevron as the managing company of the field”.

“We have already conveyed what we would like to see through the utilisation and development of this specific field, so that both parties are on the same page, allowing them to move forward with proper planning,” Papanastasiou said.

Asked about a possible timeline, in terms of reaching an agreement, the minister said that the contract outlines certain correspondences that need to be put in writing.

However, he noted that what is being written in these letters is not final. “As you know, in consultations, technical committees sit down, exchange opinions, find common ground, and move forward,” he explained.

When further questioned about the timeline for a final resolution, he stated that the timelines are those present in the 2019 plan and remain the same.

Pressed to express if there is optimism about a resolution, he said “we are very optimistic, both parties, that we will eventually reach a plan that will be widely accepted”.

Asked about the ideal time for a resolution, he said it’s not about an ideal time but rather about seeing the utilisation of the field.

“However, as you know, energy is not a magic wand; we need to plan and decide on the direction,” he said.

“Following this, taking into account the milestones, with the next significant one being the consortium’s final investment decision, natural gas should start being extracted by approximately 2027 or 2028”, he noted.

Meanwhile, when asked about President Nikos Christodoulides’ contacts with energy company ENI in Italy, the minister said he would be briefed on those soon.

He added that the company, after meetings he had in Italy with CEO Claudio Descalzi, is proceeding with ‘Kronos 2’, a confirmatory drilling taking place in the southwest cluster of findings within the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone.

“We believe that what has been collected in that area is enough to justify either an initial direction towards Egypt for liquefaction purposes or infrastructure creation towards Cyprus for liquefaction and use in power generation in Cyprus,” he explained.

“So, we will await the findings of ‘Kronos 2’, as well as for the actions suggested by the companies within that cluster of fields, and we will act accordingly,” Papanastasiou added.

Finally, when asked if there is a plan to reduce the cost of energy for households, the minister said that “based on our planning, we want households to be self-sufficient, and that’s why we are promoting the idea of photovoltaics in every home”.

Essentially, he added, by having self-generation and self-consumption, the burden on the grid is removed, and in this way, the production, which comes from the roof of the property itself, is used on-site, which reduces the load on the grid.

“You will burden the grid a little until we have batteries installed in the properties themselves, causing some extra load due to the additional production which will be fed into the grid, and we will retrieve it during hours when the photovoltaic system is not producing any energy,” he said.

“However, we will solve this with the new plans we have in place for the installation of batteries,” he concluded.