Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Paschalides said on Tuesday that the extraction of natural gas will begin late 2011 or early 2012, adding that the Public Gas Corporation (DEFA) has received the mandate and very soon construction work will begin for the natural gas network, using EU funds.

Paschalides noted that, “if necessary, they will call experts so that specific suggestions, proposals and scenarios can be prepared for all pending issues, and so that the Minister can take decisions.“

“Some issues we will be taking to the Council of Ministers for a decision, some others we will approve as they are,“ he said, referring to the responsibilities of the advisory committee on natural gas.

The Minister said that there will be decisions to be taken and that the decisions will be implemented. “We will proceed and we will carry out the extraction, either at the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012,“ he added.

Paschalides also referred to the sum of 10 million EUR that had been set by the EU for the Energy Centre, which after an intervention by the Minister had been “locked“ in favour of Cyprus, and soon work will begin to construct the natural gas distribution network.

“We have locked these 10 million EUR and we can use the funds for any purpose. We will use it mostly for the network, and I have already given instructions to DEFA to proceed. Regardless of how, when and what form of natural gas there will be, the network will proceed immediately,“ he added.

Cyprus has signed two agreements, with Egypt and Israel, delimitating the countrys exclusive economic zone. A third agreement, with Lebanon, has to be ratified by the Lebanese parliament. Israel has located massive reserves in one of its plots, which borders a Cypriot plot.

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