Do we need LNG, after all?

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The UN’s Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, has said it sev­eral times: the is­land’s gas re­serves could be a god­send as much as a curse. Read­ing be­tween the lines, he is just con­vey­ing a mes­sage from his pay­mas­ters, that as long as Turkey’s in­flu­ence reaches deep into the cor­ri­dors of power of the U.S., the U.N. and other pro­tec­tors of Western in­ter­ests, Greek Cypri­ots have lit­tle chance of ever see­ing any ben­e­fit from the oil and gas finds in the off­shore fields.

Per­haps, then, Cyprus ought to con­sider an al­ter­na­tive op­tion – to leave the hy­dro­car­bon finds in the ground, for the time be­ing. With oil and gas prices re­ced­ing by 60% in the past year and with the pop­u­lar­ity of shale gas ris­ing, no one knows where the price of the com­mod­ity would be by 2020 or 2021 when our first sup­ply is ex­pected to come on stream.

This would not be an act of cow­ardice in the face of the Turk­ish mil­i­tary might. On the con­trary, it would send out a clear mes­sage that “as long as we are not al­lowed to utilise th­ese re­sources now, then no one should.” And that could put an end, for now, to Ankara’s bul­ly­ing tac­tics and stok­ing its re­la­tions with oth­ers might­ier than it­self, such as Is­rael.

Lis­ten­ing to the shal­low com­ments and crit­i­cism from the im­ma­ture politi­cians of Cyprus (after all, they were the ones who said ‘No’ to the first bailout plan and look where that got us), can any­one be trusted with prop­erly and fairly man­ag­ing the subsea wealth on be­half of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions?

Per­haps, then, we should con­sider fo­cus­ing on what we have to­day, the grossly un­der­utilised so­lar en­ergy, for which past and present gov­ern­ments have failed mis­er­ably to en­cour­age, with the ex­cep­tion of the oc­ca­sional so­lar or wind park dot­ted here and there.

Had we set our pri­or­i­ties to re­verse the EU ac­tion plan for al­ter­na­tive sources of en­ergy to ac­count for 20% of our out­put by 2020 and had we set our tar­get at 80% of gen­er­ated out­put, then by the time the cur­rent phase of off­shore ex­plo­rations end and we all agree on how to pipe it out, the po­ten­tial wealth gen­er­ated may not be that much of a need, as much as a want.

In his ef­fort to pro­vide a hint of an ex­pla­na­tion be­hind what drives rad­i­cal Is­lamist thugs, Jef­frey Sachs, a cru­sader of sus­tained de­vel­op­ment and per­haps even an “anti-hy­dro­car­bon­ist”, sug­gests in his col­umn (see Back Page) that “end­ing the ter­ror of rad­i­cal Is­lam will re­quire end­ing the West’s wars for con­trol in the Mid­dle East. For­tu­nately, the Age of Oil is grad­u­ally com­ing to an end. We should make that end come faster: cli­mate safety will re­quire that we leave most fos­sil-fuel re­sources in the ground.”

Had we sought the ad­vice of Sachs, per­haps oil and gas wealth would not even be worth dis­cussing in the cur­rent phase of the Cyprus talks that have reached an im­passe.

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