From ‘coal and steel’ to ‘sun and wind’

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The Euro­pean Union is trans­form­ing it­self from the ‘coal and steel’ al­liance it was at its found­ing to one of ‘ sun and wind’, with the ‘en­ergy union’ fo­cus­ing on five pil­lars of re­forms, most of which will be im­ple­mented this year, ac­cord­ing to Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Vice Pres­i­dent Maros Sev­covic.

Con­clud­ing his En­ergy Union Tour to Cyprus dur­ing a two-day visit, the Slo­vak Com­mis­sioner in charge of the En­ergy port­fo­lio said that the Juncker Com­mis­sion’s pri­or­i­ties have five di­men­sions: bet­ter en­ergy se­cu­rity, com­plet­ing the in­ter­nal mar­ket re­form, de­car­bon­i­sa­tion, en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and fo­cus on re­search and in­no­va­tion.

He said that for the En­ergy Union pri­or­i­ties, this will be a year of de­liv­ery of about 90% of what has been promised.

Dur­ing his visit, Sev­covic said he dis­cussed “the new and im­por­tant role of Cyprus in the east­ern Mediter­ranean with the new dis­cov­er­ies of nat­u­ral gas,” but that he was also very en­cour­aged with what he saw on the is­land, es­pe­cially as re­gards the at­ten­tion paid to re­new­ables.

He said that there is a change in the geo-eco­nomic and even in the geopo­lit­i­cal scenery and that Cyprus can very soon re­move it­self from be­ing an en­ergy is­land.

Sev­covic men­tioned the five Projects of Com­mon In­ter­est (PCIs) ap­proved for Cyprus, two of which re­late to the 2,000 MW EuroAsia In­ter­con­nec­tor ca­ble and an­other two for gas in­ter­con­nec­tion.

He added that the re­cent dis­cov­er­ies in the Cyprus, Egyp­tian and Is­raeli off­shore fields could boost nat­u­ral gas ex­ports to Europe, which is a “very good cus­tomer, we pay high prices, on time and in hard cur­rency.”

Sev­covic said that hav­ing re­alised that Cyprus has a pri­or­ity to use some of the liq­uid nat­u­ral gas (LNG) out­put for do­mes­tic use, that there is still room for ex­ports, as Euro­pean de­mands are cur­rently es­ti­mated at about 400-500 bil­lion cu­bic me­tres a year (14.1 tril­lion cu­bic feet to 17.6 tcf). He said that the re­cent dis­cov­ery at the Egyp­tian Zohr gas­field alone would sat­isfy all of Europe’s needs for eight years.

Cyprus Aphrodite gas­field, op­er­ated by US Noble En­ergy and part­ners Delek/Avner and re­cently BG, has a re­serve of about 4-5 tcf, with the Ital­ian ENI and Korean Kogas ven­ture plan­ning more ex­plo­rations in their own gas­fields.

On the Cyprus prob­lem, Sev­covic said he was en­cour­aged by the pos­i­tive cli­mate, which he also con­firmed from his meet­ings with the two ne­go­tia­tors, An­dreas Mavroyian­nis and Ozdil Nami.

“I see a lot of pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments in Cyprus,” he told a press briefing at the EU House, not­ing that the econ­omy of Cyprus is pick­ing up and that un­em­ploy­ment is grad­u­ally go­ing down. He also said that he was very en­cour­aged by his meet­ings with political lead­ers and that he “got the clear im­pres­sion that there is strong ef­fort be­ing put on look­ing for the best pos­si­ble out­come for the Cyprus is­sue”.

“It was clear that both sites un­der­stand each other very well and are ready to look for the cre­ative so­lu­tions which would bring the pos­i­tive con­clu­sion of the Cyprus set­tle­ment talks,” he noted.

Vice-Pres­i­dent Sev­covic said that thanks to Cyprus and the good part­ner­ship it has de­vel­oped over the years with Egypt, Is­rael and Jor­dan, “we are now look­ing at the pos­si­bil­i­ties of a joint ap­proach for the de­vel­op­ment of this newly found nat­u­ral wealth in this part of the Mediter­ranean”.

“We want to open Europe to more sup­pli­ers of gas to make sure that we will have se­cu­rity and more com­pe­ti­tion to get bet­ter prices for the con­sumers. In this re­spect de­vel­op­ments in the east­ern Mediter­ranean are very pos­i­tive” he said.

Europe, he said, “is go­ing to de­velop its own LNG strat­egy and we see the Mediter­ranean as a gate­way for pos­si­ble new sup­ply routes to come from this re­gion to Europe. What we can of­fer is that we are very trans­par­ent” he noted.

The Com­mis­sion of­fi­cials also high­lighted Cyprus’ enor­mous po­ten­tial in re­new­able en­ergy.

As he said, Cyprus is on track when it comes to the tar­gets for 2020, adding that he was as­sured by the Cypriot En­ergy Min­is­ter that in the field of re­new­ables, en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and re­duc­tion of green­house gas emis­sions all the tar­gets for 2020 will be met.

He stressed the need to adopt good de­ci­sions lo­cally but that “we also need to ad­just the Euro­pean sys­tems to be able to in­te­grate the re­new­ables bet­ter, be­cause the same chal­lenges Cyprus is fac­ing are faced by many Euro­pean mem­ber states and there­fore we want to present by the end of the next year a land­mark leg­is­la­tion and this will be the pro­posal on how to re­design the Euro­pean elec­tric­ity mar­ket”.

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