The House audit committee on Thursday expressed their support to Energy Minister George Papanastasiou on the way he is handling with the beleaguered Vasiliko LNG plant.

Cyprus is in arbitration in London with Chinese consortium CPP Metron, which has undertaken the construction of the land terminal. CPP has filed for further compensation worth €200 million from the Republic of Cyprus.

The LNG terminal has been riddled with issues, with the Audit Office recently entering the fray saying the project would be reported to the European Prosecutor’s Office as EU funding was involved in the debacle, now years delayed with no sign of completion.

The management of the whole project has been “tragic”, according to its 150-page report. The Audit Office said the project has so far cost the taxpayer €542 million due to the increased cost of delays in a process riddled with inaccuracies and serious violations of public contracting that could even involve criminal responsibility.

The project promoter is Etyfa, a subsidiary of Defa, the natural gas public company. The audit office accuses the body of pandering to the contractor instead of claiming compensation for the delays endured.

At the meeting on Thursday, the head of the House audit committee Zacharias Koulias said that they were behind Papanastasiou and the way he is handling the issue.

 “The energy minister informed us behind closed doors because an arbitration is underway in London,” Koulias said in a statement after the meeting.

“We have been fully briefed and the entire committee has expressed its support for the energy minister’s handling of the matter and we hope that a solution will be found as soon as possible.”

Opposition Disy MP Savia Orphanidou said that they were informed by the minister about the developments in the completion of the gas terminal at Vasiliko, adding that “for Disy this issue is a very serious matter.”

“For this very reason, we strongly believe that this issue should be kept away from public controversies as the Republic of Cyprus is already in negotiations with the other side,” she added.

Orphanidou reiterated Disy’s firm position that “this project should be completed for the well-meaning interests of every resident and consumer, but especially for energy security issues” and added that Disy expects “the government to find ways to complete it”.