World Bulletin / News Desk
Europe could start importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Cyprus by 2022, the Greek Cypriot head of the National Hydrocarbons Company has claimed.
Speaking in an interview with ITAR-TASS on Tuesday, Tula Onoufriou, said “Taking into consideration the current situation, we assess our capacities to start LNG exports in 2022.”
National Hydrocarbons Company head Onoufriou said that it is important for Cyprus to start monetizing its resources in “tight” deadlines, adding that the island's reserves could contribute to “ensuring energy security, becoming an energy hub in the region with the infrastructure necessary for supplies to Europe.”
Europe is currently is search of an alternative supply of natural gas than that of Russia, which supplies about 30% of Europe's gas needs.
Differences over Ukraine's political crisis have put Europe and Russia at odds with one another, creating great uncertainty and insecurity over the Russian gas supply which is mainly pumped to Europe via pipelines through Ukraine.
The discovery of natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean's Levant sea basin, which is found within Cypriot waters, is considered to be a possible alternative to Russian gas.
However, a 40-year political dispute between the island's Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots are proving to be an obstacle to the shipment of the newfound resource.
Although Europe is arguably the favorite to become the island's number one customer for the gas, Turkey insists that the only way it would allow pipelines through its territory to supply Europe is if the Greek Cypriot administration agrees to the UN-backed bi-zonal, bi-communual peace deal with the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Reluctance on the Greek Cypriot side to agree to a bi-zonal federation has led them to consider other possibilities, including pipelines through Greece, which many experts consider unrealistic.
Another option is to liquify the natural gas at an LNG plant, which the island currently lacks and would require financing in the range of half of Cyprus' annual gross domestic product (GDP), estimated at 17 billion euros ($21.8 billion).
The 140 billion cubic meters of natural gas found in Block 12 of the Aphrodite gas field, which was discovered by US Noble Energy company, is insufficient to fund an LNG plant.
Onoufriou told Cyprus Mail that the construction of such a plant would first have to be justified with the discovery of more gas reserves.
“If we get the confirmation that there is a sufficient amount of gas, we will be able to continue developing plans to construct a land-based LNG plant, if no, we will have to again assess the capacities,” she said, adding that a floating LNG plant was also a possibility.
On the other hand, exports may go to Egypt, which hosts the only Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) plant in the region. Once liquified, exports may be transported to the Asian continent, as Egypt cannot supply its own demand for natural gas with LNG due to its lack of a regasification plant.
Israel has considered plans to begin building an LNG plant in Cyprus in 2016 in order to allow Israel to supply the Asian demand for a cheap price. However, in order to compete with Australia, Mozambique, the US, Canada and Russia, who have already offered to supply the far-east with LNG by 2018-2020, Israel needs to act quickly and therefore cannot afford to wait for the Greek Cypriot administration to complete this project.Last Mod: 24 Eylül 2014, 16:13