PCIs to place Cyprus on EU ‘en­ergy union’ map

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The prospects of ter­mi­nat­ing Cyprus’ en­ergy iso­la­tion through the cre­ation of an en­ergy union, to­gether with its po­ten­tial im­pact on en­hanc­ing en­ergy se­cu­rity and con­tribut­ing to lower en­ergy costs for con­sumers were dis­cussed dur­ing a sem­i­nar at the EU House in Ni­cosia.

Al­ready, three projects, a sub­sea ca­ble and two nat­u­ral gas projects, have neen in­cluded in the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s list of Projects of Com­mon In­ter­est (PCIs).

In his re­marks at the con­fer­ence, En­ergy Min­is­ter Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said that the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues the im­ple­men­ta­tion of its strat­egy to ex­ploit the hy­dro­car­bon re­serves, dis­cov­ered in its ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone. He also said that the ul­ti­mate goal is to achieve lower en­ergy prices for con­sumers.

The event was also ad­dressed by MEP Neok­lis Sy­liki­o­tis, who wel­comed the in­clu­sion of sev­eral en­ergy projects of Cypriot in­ter­est in a Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pri­or­ity list, un­veiled a fort­night ago.

Lakkotrypis re­ferred to the 10% elec­tric­ity in­ter­con­nec­tion tar­get, which forms part of the En­ergy Union goals, say­ing that this needs to be achieved by all mem­ber states. Cyprus must be part of the in­ter­nal en­ergy mar­ket, he noted, adding that this fa­cil­i­tates Ni­cosia’s en­ergy plans.

He fur­ther talked on the as­pect of up­hold­ing mem­ber states’ sov­er­eign rights, with re­gard to their en­ergy sources, adding that this pro­vides Cyprus the op­por­tu­nity to prop­erly utilise its lo­cal re­sources.

The Min­is­ter also talked about Cyprus’ en­ergy iso­la­tion and the mar­ket’s small size which im­peded com­pet­i­tive­ness to a sig­nif­i­cant de­gree, re­sult­ing in higher fuel and en­ergy prices com­pared to other EU coun­tries.

Speak­ing on en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture, the Min­is­ter re­ferred to the projects that have been in­cluded in a list of 195 key en­ergy “projects of com­mon in­ter­est”.

The list in­cludes the “EuroAsia In­ter­con­nec­tor”, a joint ven­ture be­tween Greece’s DEH/PPC, Quan­tum En­ergy and the Is­rael Elec­tric Corp., that will pro­vide for the in­ter­con­nec­tion of Cyprus with Is­rael and Greece through an elec­tric ca­ble, as well as to two nat­u­ral gas projects.

Th­ese projects can ben­e­fit from speedy li­cens­ing and en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment pro­ce­dures, and may even­tu­ally re­ceive fund­ing from the “Con­nect­ing Europe” fa­cil­ity.

Speak­ing on Ni­cosia’s en­ergy de­signs, the Min­is­ter noted that con­tacts were in­ten­si­fy­ing be­tween his Min­istry and the com­pa­nies in­volved in the de­vel­op­ment of the block 12 reser­voir, in or­der to for­mu­late the De­vel­op­ment and Pro­duc­tion Plan.

Through this, Cyprus will be­come a nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­ing coun­try, he noted.

Re­fer­ring to the dis­cov­ery of the Egyp­tian off­shore reser­voir in “Zohr”, Lakkotrypis spoke of “rapid devel­op­ments” in the re­gion and said that the up­graded en­ergy pro­file of the east­ern Mediter­ranean has a pos­i­tive im­pact for Cyprus as well.

AKEL and Euro­pean United Left MEP Neok­lis Sy­liki­o­tis said that hy­dro­car­bon find­ings in the wider re­gion give Cyprus the chance to play an im­por­tant role for the Union’s en­ergy devel­op­ments. It is an op­por­tu­nity that should not be missed, he noted.

“Nat­u­ral gas con­sti­tutes po­ten­tially the most im­por­tant hope that our state and peo­ple ever had for so­cial pros­per­ity, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and po­lit­i­cal up­grad­ing,” the Cypriot MEP has noted.

On the prospects of the “Aphrodite” reser­voir in block 12, Sy­liki­o­tis, a for­mer Commerce Min­is­ter who ini­ti­ated the off­shore ex­plo­rationpro­gramme, said sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties have been dis­cov­ered that could be ex­ported, not­ing also the ded­i­ca­tion re­quired to im­ple­ment an am­bi­tious and re­al­is­tic strate­gic plan­ning, that will turn Cyprus into a re­gional en­ergy hub.

On the en­ergy projects of Cypriot in­ter­est, the MEP said that ap­prov­ing the nec­es­sary stud­ies was im­por­tant, how­ever sig­nif­i­cant work had still to be done.

Re­fer­ring to the cre­ation of an LNG ter­mi­nal, Sy­liki­o­tis said the project should not be aban­doned, since it would turn Cyprus into a re­gional liq­ue­fac­tion point for global mar­kets.

The sem­i­nar was also ad­dressed by the Head of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Of­fice in Cyprus Andreas Ket­tis and the Head of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Cyprus Ge­or­gios Markopouli­o­tis, who said that in view of the Paris Cli­mate Sum­mit, the EU’s com­mit­ment to re­duce car­bon emis­sion by at least 40% by the year 2030 now seems re­al­is­tic which will also con­trib­ute to en­ergy se­cu­rity and help pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.

The de­sign for the EuroAsia In­ter­con­nec­tor project has al­ready been in­cluded in the EU’s Projects of Com­mon In­ter­est.

Un­der­sea ca­bles are laid in trenches along the seabed to pre­vent their dis­tur­bance by ships’ an­chors. The work is car­ried out by ro­botic tech­nol­ogy. The first phase of the project in­volves con­nect­ing Crete with Athens and Cyprus with Is­rael, while the sec­ond phase will see the link­ing of Crete with Cyprus. The ca­ble will trans­fer elec­tric­ity pro­duced from nat­u­ral gas in both di­rec­tions.

Greece’s Hel­lenic Ca­bles is set to par­tic­i­pate in the EUR 3.5 bln project. The un­der­wa­ter ca­ble with a to­tal length of some 1,500 kilo­me­ters will be laid at depths of up to 2,000 me­ters be­low sea level with a ca­pac­ity of 2,000 megawatts.

“The de­mand for elec­tric­ity in Europe is phe­nom­e­nal… we think that in the fu­ture even a sec­ond ca­ble might be re­quired,” said Na­sos Ktorides, chair­man of DEH-Quan­tum En­ergy, a joint ven­ture of Cyprus’ Quan­tum En­ergy and Greece’s Pub­lic Power Cor­po­ra­tion (PPC).

“Our tar­get is to have com­pleted the first phase of the project within 36 months from the launch, for the first con­nec­tion in 2017,” Ktorides had stated in 2013.

The link would be able to trans­mit power in ei­ther di­rec­tion and would pri­mar­ily fo­cus on elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated from nat­u­ral gas. But elec­tric­ity from re­new­able sources could also po­ten­tially feed into the net­work, Ktorides said.

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