Energy Minister: Cyprus’ natural gas project cannot become Turkey’s hostage
CNA – Apostolis ZoupaniotisNew York 14/9/2013 11:01


Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis has stressed that the whole project for the drilling and exploitation of hydrocarbons discovered in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) cannot become Turkey`s hostage.

 

Lakkotrypis wrapped up on Friday his visit to the US, during which he had meetings with US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and State Department officials, while he delivered speeches at think tanks and had meetings with members of the Congress, the Jewish lobby and members of the Greek-American community.

 

In statements to the press, Lakkotrypis expressed satisfaction with the results of his contacts both in Washington and New York. “We basically explained what we are doing in the Eastern Mediterranean, what Cyprus is doing with regards to exploration, exploitation of hydrocarbons. I have to say that we had some excellent meetings including what I consider the highlight of meeting with the Department of Energy and the Secretary of Energy himself, Mr. Moniz,” he said.

Speaking on Thursday evening, at an event organized at Marsh USA Inc. premises in Manhattan, Lakkotrypis stressed that Cyprus’ vision is to become an energy centre in the Eastern Mediterranean and contribute to the geopolitical stability and economic development of the region.

Responding to a question by the audience, he said that the recovery of Cyprus’ economy must not depend by the natural gas exploitation and the Cyprus government is doing everything possible for the recovering of the economy, focusing on the sectors of tourism and services.

He also noted that the issue of natural gas exploitation is not related to the talks for a Cyprus settlement, expected to begin in October, because then Cyprus would become Turkey’s hostage for another 39 years.

Lakkotrypis stressed that while the settlement of the Cyprus problem is a top priority for the Cyprus government, the government must at the same time proceed with the hydrocarbons research and exploitation project, irrelevant of the course of the negotiations on the Cyprus problem.

On Friday Lakkotrypis visited the New York Stock Exchange and had meetings with members of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and its Executive Director David Harris and members of the New York Energy Forum, as well as with the Director of the Global Energy GME Group.

On Thursday he had a series of meetings with organizations and companies dealing with energy issues, New York based think tanks, New York state officials and the media.

The Minister also had a meeting with members of the World Policy Institute, whom he informed on the natural gas issue.

In his statements to the press, Lakkotrypis noted that he discussed with US Secretary of Energy “numerous ways that we can collaborate, be it renewable sources of energy or another element which is of interest to all the countries in the Eastern Mediterranean which are environmental protection and ways and processes that we can develop in order to respond potential environmental disasters.”

“We’ve agreed that we will take this conversation further to see how the US can support us in a couple of these endeavors we have undertaken,” he added.

“I could see that with all the stakeholders that we talked to everyone was pretty excited to what is going on in the Eastern Mediterranean and want to hear more and want to be updated and stay up to date,” he stressed.

Asked about the Liquefied Natural Gas (LGN) facility, Lakkotrypis said “the LNG facility is being built with the potential to go to three trains and potentially more. We’ve marked down the land for in essence three trains. Now, once Israel makes its decisions and should it decide that it would liquefy in Cyprus then we are looking at a pipeline on shore of Cyprus where it will be liquefied and shipped to its destination,” he noted.

Asked about his meeting with Senator Menendez, Lakkotrypis said they discussed about Syria, noting that “the Senator is interested to see how we can bring about stability, general stability in the region, within the context of Syria as well.”

“So we discussed with the Senator what we are doing in Cyprus, how we envision the region and how we hope that the discoveries in this new wealth can bring about prosperity and stability which will in turn attract foreign direct investments and further development growth,” he added.

 

He said that “the Senator was really interested to hear whether the operations that we are doing in offshore drilling have been impacted by the Syrian situation and my answer was no. Of course you might have technical difficulties if you have military operations but so far, despite the congestion of warships in the Eastern Mediterranean we haven’t had any significant impact,” Lakkotrypis added.

 

Exploratory drilling carried by Huston-based Noble Energy in 2011 revealed a gross natural mean raging from 5 to 7 trillion cubic feet (tcf). Noble Energy operates Block 12 with a 70 percent working interest. Delek Drilling Limited Partnership and Avner Oil Exploration Limited Partnership each own 15 percent.

 

On June 26, 2013, Cyprus government, Delek and Avner signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with regard to the construction of a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in the Cyprus.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. A new round of peace talks is expected to start this autumn, to find a negotiated settlement that will reunify the country, under a federal roof

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