By Kostis Geropoulos/New Europe,
LAGONISSI, Greece – Cyprus plans to forge ahead with the country’s energy plans to explore for hydrocarbons in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and export the gas to Europe despite the position of Turkey, Cyprus’s Energy Minister told New Europe on June 15.
“I think the aggressive behaviour of Turkey is a constant,” Cyprus’ Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said in an interview on the sidelines of the 22nd Roundtable with the Government of Greece in the seaside residential area of Lagonissi, south of Athens.
“What we’re doing is, first of all, without wavering, proceeding to execute our energy plans and within that context enhance, strengthen the partnerships that we have both with countries that would form what we call the Eastern Med Natural Gas Corridor to Europe but also with the companies which are operating in our Exclusive Economic Zone. You’ll see over the next few weeks further strengthening of these relationships,” Lakkotrypis added.
Turning to Italy’s ENI and France’s Total, the two European companies expected to proceed with drillings on Block 8, Lakkotrypis said Nicosia is optimistic about hydrocarbon findings in all the blocks explored in Cyprus’ EEZ.
“Over the past months we had the very promising discovery of Calypso. Calypso in Block 6 has been very significant for two very important reasons: it’s adding to the quantities of natural gas in Cyprus EEZ and its northernmost discovery from the Nile Delta that we’ve had in the Eastern Med, which proves the concept that gas has migrated very close to Cyprus at the core of the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, significant for the remaining exploration programme, which includes Block 8 and other blocks as well,” Lakkotrypis said.
The Cypriot Energy Minister reminded that the European Union supports efforts to export hydrocarbons from the East Mediterranean to Europe. “We have seen very strong political support. For example, right now, we’re in the process of discussions with Egypt for an intergovernmental agreement for a pipeline that would connect Cyprus EEZ to Egyptian LNG (liquefied natural gas) plants and we’re seeing very strong political support from the Commission,” Lakkotrypis told New Europe. “We’re also seeing the European Union backing us with funding, for example they are funding us with €100 million for the Cyprus gas to EU project and also with 35 million for the studies for the engineering and design of the East Med pipeline. We’re seeing the EU strongly behind the creation of this corridor so that we diversify not only the supplies of gas but also the routes.”
Cyprus is in talks with all the countries in the neighbourhood to forge strong alliances in order to get the gas out of the ground and transport it to the European market, he said, stressing that Cyprus can play a key role in EU energy security.
“Take, for example, the Aphrodite gas. If we are able to send it to an LNG plant in Egypt – both of them are being operating by European companies that would be liquefied and then sent to the European markets,” Lakkotrypis said. “Imagine the East Med pipeline should the contents be sufficient to justify that project or the markets justify that project, then you could be transporting gas also by pipeline. There is also the possibility should the discoveries be sufficient to build an LNG plant in Cyprus as well for liquefaction, not regasification. So all these methods are being analysed while, of course, we are anticipating the results of the exploration programme.”
Lakkotrypis said there is also a possibility to transport gas from the East Mediterranean through the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the IGI Poseidon pipeline and the Interconnector Greece Bulgaria (IGB) once East Med gas reaches continental Europe.