|Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Republic of Cyprus|
LAGONISSI, GREECE – Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy and the European Commission are committed to push forward a pipeline project to export recent gas deliveries from the East Mediterranean region, Cyprus’ Energy Minister told New Europe on June 29.
“I think the commitment of the four countries that are involved and the Commission was proven when we had the quadrilateral meeting in Tel Aviv and continues to be so when we had the trilateral just a few days ago in Salonica between Greece, Cyprus and Israel,” Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Lagonissi, south of Athens.
“We had meetings today with the promoters IGI Poseidon. We are moving ahead with starting the discussions in a few days at the level of technocrats for an intergovernmental agreement where it is necessary between the countries and, at the same time, there will be applications in the European Union for Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to help us finance some of the more technical studies which are needed to progress the project to the next stage,” Lakkotrypis said.
Asked if Cyprus favours the East Med pipeline or liquefied natural gas (LNG) or both to export gas from the region, Cyprus’ Energy Minister said, “that would depend on what kind of discoveries we will have for what I call ‘exploration 2.0 for Cyprus’”.
He said Cyprus is starting a new phase of exploration based on a new geological model, which was uncovered by the discovery of the massive Zohr field offshore Egypt in August 2015. “This would show us what kind of resources do we have – both in Cyprus but also Israel and Egypt, perhaps Lebanon because all of these countries are active with more exploration licenses. So the results of this ‘exploration 2.0’ will also determine which and how many of these projects will actually be possible,” Lakkotrypis said.
If There Is Gas, They Will Find It
France’s Total, Italy’s ENI, US major ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum have signed contracts recently to explore for oil and gas in offshore areas south of Cyprus.
“We are cautiously optimistic. We know that these kinds of activities are quite uncertain, that’s why the companies are spending a lot of money in very risky operations. We’ll have to wait and see what the drilling campaigns will uncover,” Lakkotrypis said. “We have Total, we have ENI, we have ExxonMobil, we have Qatar Petroleum; Noble of the US, Shell as well – so a lot of big names. Let me put it this way: if there is gas, these companies will find it,” Cyprus’ Energy Minister told New Europe.
UN-sponsored talks to reunify the island resumed on June 28 in Switzerland. Asked if a Cyprus resolution would help energy developments in the East Mediterranean, Lakkotrypis said it would create a stable environment for the companies to operate.
“Look, the more stable the political environment or geopolitical environment is in a particular region, more so in the East Med which we all know it’s a very turbulent area of the world, the easier it is, the more predictable it is for companies to operate. So the possibility of normalisation of relations between Cyprus and Turkey or indeed between other countries between them which are in dispute will help in the direction that we’re trying to build: stability, predictability in an environment for the companies can do their job,” Lakkotrypis said.
Asked if it is pre-condition, he quipped: “Absolutely not! You can see that we are moving ahead with our licensing rounds, with our exploration programmes, with our negotiations of commercialisation and development of our discoveries and we will continue to do so”.
Kostis Geropoulos, Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe