East Med: Nicosia’s energy strategy in 5+1 steps

East Med: Nicosia’s energy strategy in 5+1 steps

Nicosia has structured and advanced its energy policy very methodically and this is unquestionable.

Its result are the transnational agreements on the demarcation of its Exclusive Economic Zone with the countries of the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, as well as the signing of binding contracts with international groups operating in the fields of research, production and commercial exploitation of hydrocarbons.

The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Cyprus, Stelios Himonas says that Nicosia’s strategy for hydrocarbon exploration in the eastern Mediterranean consists of five pillars.

  1. Research

According to him, “If you want to be a strong player in this field, you need resources”. As a result, search and research for oil and gas exploration is the top priority.

Not all the results so far have been encouraging for Nicosia since gas reserves that have been identified in the recent past have not been able to justify further exploration of an area and were not commercially exploitable. However, even in this case, the evidence is valuable because it is a “stock” of knowledge.

 2. Exploitation

Upon completion of the exploration of the Aphrodite field in plot 12, a circle closes. Now starts the commercialisation of available gas quantities.

As a more economically preferable solution, natural gas has been suggested to be exported to Egypt – the way of extraction, whether by submarine pipeline or LNG cargo, remains to be clarified – in order to bring the Cypriot gas to the purchaser concerned through Egyptian facilities.

3.  Implementation of infrastructure for the extraction of the produced hydrocarbons 

The eastern Mediterranean Basin, according to the U.S. Geological Survey that has been published, hosts about 350 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. So far, cumulatively, the established natural gas reserves of Israel and Egypt amount to 75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

It is a priority, therefore, according to the country’s Ministry of Energy, to secure ways to export Cypriot hydrocarbons.

Nicosia initially targets the local market, for example neighbouring countries such as Egypt, then the European market, and finally, depending on the available quantities, the international market.

An integral part of the implementation of this design, if warranted, is the creation of a storage and treatment plant for LNG in Vassiliko.

4. Ensuring partnerships

Transnational cooperation, in this case between Cyprus and Egypt, for example, Israel, Greece, Lebanon or Jordan, is a key factor in completing Nicosia’s energy policy. The goals are common, as are the challenges. That is why, as Himonas points out, synergies, trust and mutual respect are essential.

5. Investment in work force

In order to complete the planning, it is necessary to invest in the human resources, which is what will support the whole project, at all levels requiring such know-how.

For this reason, Nicosia is developing the required educational and training programmes, so that domestic human resources support the emerging oil and gas market for which specialised knowledge and skills are required.

2018 is a landmark year

In any case, 2018 appears to be the catalyst year for Cyprus. This is supported by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Cyprus.

Extensive exploratory drilling on plots 3 and 10 is expected to take place in the near future by American ExxonMobil, French Total, Italian EMI and Qatar Petroleum.

The results of these surveys will serve as a guide to shaping Nicosia’s energy policy. The government will know what they have in their hands in order to be able to plan the next moves…/IBNA