NICOSIA - Finance Minister Haris Georgiades yesterday warned that recently-discovered natural gas deposits offshore Cyprus are not the struggling economy’s lottery ticket.
But they are prospects that – if carefully and strategically implemented – can give a substantial boost to efforts towards the economy’s recovery.
Georgiades was addressing the ‘5th Mediterranean Oil & Gas Conference 2014’ in Nicosia.
He said: “The natural gas prospects are not (the Cyprus economy’s) lottery ticket but require careful handling and a well-drafted strategy by the government of the Republic of Cyprus”.
He added: “We do not put and we should not put all our hopes for the economy’s recovery into the energy prospects alone. It is not a prospect we believe it will take us out of the crisis from one day to the other”.
The Minister also said that the economy’s reform and improvement policy efforts should continue.
“Only an economy where confidence is restored, especially international confidence, can allow the smooth implementation of planning in regard to energy,” he said.
“And it is that economy that will allow – when the time comes - the smooth absorption of revenues from natural gas,” he added.
Georgiades then announced that his ministry is drafting legislation on the set up of a state fund to absorb future revenues from natural gas.
The draft bill will be tabled before parliament within months, definitely before the year’s end to ensure the future of generation to come, he added.
At the same time, former governing coalition partner Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos who also address the conference called for economic diversification.
And for the development of upstream and downstream industries on oil and gas activities which, he described, as the key to the country’s future sustainable development.
“Such an approach, which will require appropriate decisions to be taken and structures to be put in place, will bring benefits to the people of Cyprus, but also the Eastern Mediterranean region and the European Union as a whole,” Papadopoulos said.
“The question is to what extent could Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean gas contribute to the EU and global demand,” he added.
He then said that Cyprus aspires for the LNG terminal in Vasiliko, Limassol, to become an energy hub in the Eastern Mediterranean.
But, he added, besides the LNG terminal – which is Nicosia’s main option – Cyprus should be ready to also explore other export options.
Such as Compressed Natural Gas, Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) and pipelines.
“If feasible and viable, they could provide Cyprus with a variety of export options,” he said.