Sev­covic on en­ergy tour, dis­cusses nat­gas and EU-Is­rael ca­ble

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Vice Pres­i­dent Maro‰ ·efãoviã ar­rived in Cyprus on Mon­day as part of his En­ergy Union Tour and dis­cussed re­cent nat­gas finds in the re­gion, as well as the EU-Is­rael sub­sea elec­tric ca­ble, with Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades and other pub­lic of­fi­cials.

Se­f­covic said af­ter the meet­ing that the “lat­est en­ergy de­vel­op­ments in the east­ern Mediter­ranean and of course the new nat­u­ral gas dis­cov­er­ies [in Egypt] change the geo­dy­nam­ics of the re­gion.”

“I hope that th­ese new dis­cov­er­ies will act as an ad­di­tional bridg­ing in­gre­di­ent be­cause ev­i­dently th­ese new dis­cov­er­ies must work to the ben­e­fit of the whole re­gion, all of Cyprus. And I am sure that it could also have a very pos­i­tive im­pact on the en­ergy se­cu­rity of the EU.”

The Com­mis­sioner re­spon­si­ble for En­ergy Union said that they also dis­cussed the Cyprus prob­lem with Anas­tasi­ades. “First, the re­uni­fi­ca­tion prospects and how the EU and the Com­mis­sion can as­sist to cre­ate the best pos­si­ble favourable at­mos­phere for the good prospects of the ne­go­ti­a­tions [be­tween the two com­mu­nity lead­ers].”

“And I am happy to see that th­ese ne­go­ti­a­tions are pro­ceed­ing well. Nat­u­rally, there is still a lot of work to be done, but what is very im­por­tant is that there is a good at­mos­phere, good in­ten­tion.”

He said that they also dis­cussed mat­ters of com­mon in­ter­est and projects that are very im­por­tant for Cyprus, such as the stud­ies for the cre­ation of the 2,000 MW EuroAsia In­ter­con­nec­tor elec­tric­ity ca­ble that will con­nect Cyprus with Is­rael, and then Cyprus with Crete.

Af­ter an ear­lier meet­ing with En­ergy Min­is­ter Gior­gos Lakkotrypis, Se­f­covic said the east­ern Mediter­ranean, if prop­erly de­vel­oped, could be­come a key player in the en­ergy sup­ply of Europe, with Cyprus and the re­gion con­tribut­ing to the EU en­ergy se­cu­rity.

“We see the East Mediter­ranean as very im­por­tant ter­ri­tory from the point of view of the en­ergy se­cu­rity of Europe,” he said, adding, “I think we need to work very closely with Cyprus to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to de­velop it in the most in­tel­li­gent and smart way to the ben­e­fit of the re­gion but also for the im­prove­ment of the en­ergy se­cu­rity of Europe.”

Asked whether he sees the nat­u­ral gas de­posits dis­cov­ered in the east­ern Mediter­ranean ex­ported to Europe in the fu­ture, Se­f­covic said that a lot would de­pend on the fu­ture work in the gas fields. So far, “as we have seen the first re­sults are very promis­ing.”

“We are not talk­ing about hun­dreds, but thou­sands of bil­lions of cu­bic me­tres,” and that Europe’s an­nual nat­u­ral gas con­sump­tion ranges be­tween 400-500 mln cu­bic me­tres.

“So this just shows how im­por­tant th­ese gas fields in the east­ern Mediter­ranean are.”

Se­f­covic also said that in Fe­bru­ary the Com­mis­sion will present the new LNG strat­egy for Europe, “where we see the Mediter­ranean of very im­por­tant gate­ways for the new sup­plies for Europe.”

Lakkotrypis thanked the sup­port Se­f­covic has shown in the in­clu­sion of three Cypriot projects in the EU list of Projects of Com­mon In­ter­est (PCIs), that would re­ceive EU fund­ing.

Th­ese projects are the EuroAsia In­ter­con­nec­tor ca­ble, the EastMed pipe­line link­ing the east­ern Mediter­ranean nat­u­ral gas­fields with Cyprus and Greece, and the re­moval of in­ter­nal bar­ri­ers with a view to end­ing Cyprus’ en­ergy iso­la­tion.

The EuroAsia In­ter­con­nec­tor, the 1,518 km sub­sea power ca­ble con­nect­ing the Is­raeli, Greek and Cypriot power grids to con­ti­nen­tal Europe, en­tered its fi­nal stage last month with the pro­ject pro­moter award­ing three stud­ies that will pave the way for the pre-works phase, lead­ing to its im­ple­men­ta­tion and com­mis­sion­ing. The stud­ies are for the tech­ni­cal de­sign, the re­con­nais­sance study for the op­ti­mum route and an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact study, all of which are ex­pected to be com­plete dur­ing 2016.

Speak­ing af­ter a meet­ing with the mem­bers of the par­lia­men­tary En­ergy Com­mit­tee, Se­f­covic said that he spent most of the time dis­cussing the Cyprus PCI projects that are very im­por­tant for the is­land, as well as the im­por­tance of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency in build­ings and the bet­ter use of so­lar and wind power.

He said that the fi­nal part of the dis­cus­sion in­volved fi­nanc­ing, ways to com­bine sup­port from struc­tural funds, which have been al­lo­cated to Cyprus by the Juncker in­vest­ment fund, with the loans com­ing from Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank or the Euro­pean Bank for Re­con­struc­tion and De­vel­op­ment.

“It is very clear that th­ese funds will fo­cus on en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, so I am sure that in Cyprus there will be quite a few projects that will be el­i­gi­ble for the fi­nanc­ing from th­ese funds,” he said.

The Com­mis­sioner also vis­ited the Vas­si­likos power sta­tion, the 1200MW plant that was dec­i­mated by a nearby mil­i­tary mu­ni­tions blast in July 2011 and brought the is­land’s econ­omy to its knees. It has since been re­built and op­er­ates on crude oil, with an op­tion to ac­cept liq­uid nat­u­ral gas by the end of 2016.

Af­ter the visit, he tweeted: “Vis­it­ing Vasi­likos Elec­tric­ity Power Sta­tion, dis­cussing their Mas­ter Plan. Cru­cial tran­si­tion to low car­bon econ­omy,” while later in the evening he was the key­note speaker at the Univer­sity of Cyprus, where he dis­cussed with stu­dents the sub­ject of en­ergy tran­si­tion, un­der­lin­ing Cyprus’ “enor­mous po­ten­tial for re­new­ables.”

On Tues­day, Se­f­covic will meet with stake­hold­ers from the en­ergy sec­tor such as en­ergy pro­duc­ers, net­work oper­a­tors, academia and think-tanks.

“My En­ergy Union Tour in Cyprus will pro­vide an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to present and dis­cuss EU fund­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties and its con­tri­bu­tion to the eco­nomic re­cov­ery of Cyprus and to achieve the Europe 2020 strat­egy tar­gets for growth and jobs, in par­tic­u­lar as re­gards re­new­able en­ergy and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. Cyprus might be an is­land, but it doesn’t have to be an en­ergy is­land”.

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