By Christos Meliopoulos – Nicosia
A welcomed boost to Cyprus’s plans to use the energy sector as one of the getaway routes away from the crisis has been provided by the European Investment Bank.
On top of a €100 million deal to help guarantee loans to small and medium-sized enterprises in the island, the Bank has conveyed its preparedness to assist in securing financing for the natural gas operation, which bears much of the country’s hopes for recovery. More specifically, the EIB officials declared their intention to look into helping with the construction of the facilities in Vassilikos, the site earmarked for the Liquified Natural Gas plant. However, it is not yet quite clear how prepared the Bank would be to invest in the gas facilities itself.
The EIB has been actively involved in ushering in new technology to Cyprus allowing a future switch from now fuel-fired generators to those running on natural gas. It also stands ready to provide valuable consultation.
Any kind of assistance is considered to be important as Cyprus will have to deal with the challenges of obtaining such balance-changing wealth. The EIB’s German president Werner Hoyer declared the organisation’s will to stand by a small troubled European country, a pledge that will certainly go a long way in giving the government room to breathe and reason to smile.
One can therefore understand the Cypriot Finance Minister’s special effort to acknowledge the helping hand extended by European Investment Bank officials. As with all the other partners, though, Nicosia will need to set its own conditions before any future collaboration, especially as the true extent of potential benefits from its natural resources becomes clearer.
The drilling rig is already moving into place in Cyprus’s maritime exclusive economic zone, getting ready to proceed with the appraisal drilling in the next couple of weeks. The project is expected to be further promoted through the second Cyprus Natural Gas Conference scheduled for the 20th June in Nicosia.
After some serious downgrading of the Cyprus gas prospects during the dramatic negotiations over the deposits haircut, the island’s reserves seem to be discussed with sincere interest if not enthusiasm by big players around the globe, notwithstanding obstacles and timeframes.