High-level officials from the Chinese-led consortium responsible for constructing the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Vasiliko are expected to visit within the week, according to Energy Minister George Papanastasiou.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, he further added that the government will request a timetable for consultations between the parties.

“If a positive outcome is not reached, a joint decision to suspend cooperation will be made,” he said after the cabinet meeting.

Papanastasiou noted that the ministry is engaging in efforts through the Chinese embassy to Cyprus, explaining that “productive dialogue is currently ongoing”.

“Work on the terminal has stopped, as we want to know the company’s plans, its requirements,” he said, adding that it was urgent that the company return to work on the construction of the terminal at Vasiliko.

“We also want to know when the floating unit will be certified, so that it can be accepted by the Natural Gas Infrastructure Company (Etyfa) and, by extension, by the Republic of Cyprus.”

The unit is currently in Shanghai.

Papanastasiou then said that the government’s efforts focus at the moment on consultations at both political and technical levels directly with the consortium.

“However, if the consultations between the two parties do not conclude positively within a timetable proposed by the energy ministry, then we must suspend this cooperation so that the Republic of Cyprus is not a prisoner of an arrangement which cannot take place,” he said.

“In such a case, we should carry out a plan B that will take the project, a very important one for the country, to completion.”

Papanastasiou explained that building the LNG terminal at Vasiliko “is the fastest way to introduce natural gas for use in electricity generation,” adding that emissions need to be reduced.

“Liquefied natural gas in today’s markets comes at very low prices. It would be a dream come true if we this terminal could introduce cheap fuel while reducing pollution,” he said.

“In other words, the cost of electricity in Cyprus would be much lower, and the electricity consumer would immediately see it.”

Regarding Cyprus’ participation in the Great Sea Interconnector project, and whether there is any progress with the studies, he said that, after a decision taken by the Council of Ministers, “the Republic will be part of this effort, with an amount of up to €100 million”.

“At the moment, we are consulting with investment funds and with the Independent Power Transmission Operator (IPTO),” he said.

He added that this month, a meeting of three parties, namely the largest investment fund that has expressed interest, the IPTO, and the energy ministry, will take place “so that we can shape the course of this project”.

Asked about the large investment fund, he said it is from the United Arab Emirates.