Friday, May 12, 2017

Cyprus is “potential pivot for gas development”, ENI International Affairs Director says - FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE / CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

Active (May 2017) in Cyprus' EEZ
Friday, 12 May, 2017

Italian energy company ENI sees Cyprus as a “potential pivot for gas development” in the region, Lapo Pistelli, the company`s International Affairs Director, told a conference on Thursday, noting that should the Levantine region become a gas hub, “Cyprus is at the crossroads of every potential destination”.

The investment opportunities offered in Cyprus were discussed on Thursday at a special session on Cyprus’ economy, titled “Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean: Attractive investment opportunities within a secure business environment”, in the framework of the EBRD`s Annual Meeting, taking place in Nicosia.

Energy, Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, noted Cyprus` energy potential as well as the investment opportunities offered in the tourism and hospitality sector of the island.
Lakkotrypis said that the discovering in 2011 of the Aphrodite gas field off shore Cyprus, proved to be “a game changer” for the island`s long term growth model.

“The island`s energy potential is evident by the presence of oil and gas major such as ENI, TOTAL, Shell, Noble Energy, Delek and KOGAS, as well as many others operating in the hydrocarbon supply chains, such as Halliburton and Schlumberger. The recent additions of Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum reveal the industry`s raised expectations for Cyprus` energy potential” he stressed.

“The recent gas discoveries offshore Cyprus, Israel and Egypt put our region on the global energy map, creating investment opportunities in large scale oil and gas infrastructure projects, with the potential to service the entire region using Cyprus as a base” Lakkotrypis pointed out.

On tourism he said that new projects currently under way are set to enrich and diversify the island`s tourism experiences thus encouraging more year round visitation, a strategy that Cyprus is fully committed to, as he noted.

These projects range from the construction of new golf courses, to luxury marina developments and the upgrading of the island`s wellness and medical tourism facilities, the Minister said.

“Undoubtedly tourism is well positioned to receive significant foreign direct investment to expand and upgrade our hotel stock. Such investors are most welcome to explore prospects in Cyprus and in cooperation with the local business community take full advantage of the opportunities offered in all sectors of our economy”.

Asked what the Cypriot economy would look like by 2020, Minister of Finance Harris Georgiades said he was confident enough that by 2020 Cyprus will have more than covered the lost ground and will be growing at a rate close to 3% of GDP annually.

“We base these estimates on the pipeline of investments which is under way, the strong performance of key industries and the fact that new up and coming sectors are also emerging” he noted, but added that his “optimism is conditional on us really proving that we have learnt from the mistakes of the past”.

ENI, International Affairs Director, Lapo Pistelli, said that when it comes to the Levantine “we are still talking about an emerging gas province, which means that there are extraordinary opportunities to improve economic and political intra-regional relations”.

He explained that the company is now able to secure long term supply to key countries, Egypt, Israel and Cyprus, because it has a great quantity of gas at affordable price and that it can unlock the potential of some other countries, like Lebanon. “We can combine here in this region a good and sustainable energy model”, combining gas and renewables, he said.

Pistelli said that ENI hopes that “the discovery of Zohr can become the bridge to move from a gas province to a gas hub, which means cooperation among countries and companies and the East Med has the potential to become a gas hub, to become a platform for gas export to large markets like Europe and Turkey”.

“The first step of the gas hub will be to rely on existing LNG plants and pipes, so basically the first centre of gravity will be in the near future Egypt, where you have existing pipelines and plants but is quite clear that we need to move to the second step, hopefully finding new resources and at least three countries, Cyprus, Israel and Lebanon are on the move in this regard, and Cyprus is in the first row” he noted.

Therefore, he added, exploration investments “are vital and key to unlock this potential”.

Pistelli said that the company sees Cyprus “as a potential pivot for gas development” and noted that “in case of the gas hub is quite clear that Cyprus is at the crossroad of every potential destination”.

Asked how realistic the East Med pipeline is compared with an LNG plant in Cyprus, he said that ENI keeps all the options open, adding that “I think Cyprus is an ideal location because is the best way to keep all the options open”.

Replying to a question, ENI`s International Affairs Direction did not preclude a potential cooperation between the Italian company and Exxon Mobil, saying that “it is absolutely reasonable to have that in mind”, since “the block in which Exxon Mobil is involved is between two blocks held by ENI”. He added that “we are waiting for some decisions that have to be taken from the government while dealing with Exxon Mobil, but there is a dialogue”.

President of Columbia Shipmanagement LTD Mark O` Neil referred to Cyprus as a business centre, praising the whole infrastructure, the professional services and the well educated work-force.

He also added that the tax-regime is attractive, encouraging quality people to do business in Cyprus and the country is a hub for shipping with great geographical position.

Director General of European Fund and Asset Management Association Peter de Proft stressed the huge potential of the asset management industry in Cyprus and the great opportunities for service industry.

Founder of German Oncology Centre Nikolaos Zamboglou stressed that the highest potential in Cyprus is the human potential and said he was surprised with the enthusiasm of the high-level scientists that worked on the project. Speaking on the German Oncology Centre, a 40 million project in Limassol, he said that the project was realised in a very short time, with the financing of the banks being very solid, fast, real and without complications.

“We will be able to start our services in September and I` am afraid that our government is also surprised of how fast we worked, that they didn`t react until now on negotiations of how we can provide our services to the population”, he said.