Nicosia, November 9, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
The Ministry of Energy will proceed with a reassessment of Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone, before making any decisions for a third licensing round, Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis has said.
Presenting the Ministry`s 2016 budget before the House Committee for Finance, Lakkotrypris said that the discovery of the `Zohr` natural gas field in Egypt`s EEZ has created a new and more positive outlook for the Cypriot EEZ.
Lakkotrypis told MPs that the Ministry of Energy has asked its advisers for a reassessment of the Exclusive Economic Zone, following the discovery of the huge gas field `Zohr` in Egypt`s EEZ, and given the great interest demonstrated by companies which have seismographic data of the Cypriot EEZ.
As regards the supply of Cypriot gas to the Egyptian market, the Minister noted that his recent visit to Cairo reaffirmed the necessity of Egypt for the Cypriot gas, both for the domestic market as well as for export and said that negotiations continue.
Referring to the construction of a gas liquefaction terminal in Cyprus, he said that this is not a choice for now, given the existing quantities of the gas field Aphrodite. But he noted that the terminal could become a necessity in case more quantities are discovered. For now, he said, the only viable option are regional pipelines.
Regarding tourism, the Minister said that since the events in Sharm el-Sheikh, there is now interest for nine new flights per week from Russia to Cyprus, adding that there is also interest from the British market to begin flights in February.
Stressing the need for the tourist season to be extended and cover the period November – March, the Minister said that this year there has been an increase of 18% in tourist arrivals from England and an increase of 35% from Germany.
These positive developments, he said, are due to agreements made with major tour operators, as well as the fall in fuel prices and the exchange rate of the British pound in relation to euro.
The Minister said that according to estimations, tourist arrivals in 2016 from London will top one million.
Lakkotrypis also referred to the government`s plans for a casino, saying that on the 18th of December the procedure for expression of interest will close, while the licensing is expected in August/September 2016.
Regarding exports, he said that an increase of 15% was recorded in the first six months of 2015, despite the Russian embargo.
The Minister also referred to the Renewable Energy Sources, noting that their contribution to energy supply stands at 8,7%, noting that the goal is that it reaches 13%.