Papanastasiou: Priority is for LNG terminal to operate ASAP

Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry George Papanastasiou said that the Ministry's priority is the future of the LNG import terminal in Vasilikos, which must be operational as soon as possible.

The Minister was speaking to reporters after the conclusion of the second closed - door meeting of the House Standing Committee on Development Plans and Public Expenditure Control in light of a pending arbitration between the Republic of Cyprus and the consortium.

The issue concerns delays in the completion of the construction of the LNG import infrastructure at Vasilikos. The project also includes the delivery of a floating storage regasification of LNG unit (FSRU).

The Minister expressed the government's position, saying that the contractor "will not receive a single euro while the process is ongoing". In addition, he said that the Republic of Cyprus requires the contractor to resume construction work on the land terminal. He also said that the Ministry requires the project to be delivered in July 2024, as promised by the contractor, following a third extension.

He explained that the project should had been delivered in September 2022, it was postponed to July 2023, then to October 2023 and now it has to be delivered in July 2024.

The Energy Minister said the government is focusing on making this terminal operate, explaining that there is immediate need to import natural gas for use by conventional power generation. He said that if the terminal was operational today then the price of electricity would had been reduced by around 20 cents per kilowatt hour.

Furthermore, he said that he is discussing the matter on a political level with the Chinese Ambassador, since the Chinese company is state-owned and added that the discussion is "very constructive."

The Minister said that this coming Friday, he will meet with a high-ranking executive of the company who is visiting Cyprus for consultation, to whom he will express once more the Republic's positions.

Asked if it was possible to implement the timetable by July 2024, he said he believed it was not possible.

"We are very close to completion if the contractor wants it. If the contractor for whatever reasons is unwilling or unable to complete the project, he should say so, so that the Republic of Cyprus is not held captive by any weaknesses of the contractor," he noted.

Replying to questions, he said that with the knowledge he has today he, acting on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus, would not had given the same project to this consortium today.

He pointed out that the fastest solution is to continue the project with the same contractor, because he is in the field, therefore "the first effort of the Republic of Cyprus is to complete the project with the specific contractor, unless he shows serious weaknesses or if his demands are very excessive."

Concluding, he said that there is a plan B, but added that any timetable for this eventuality can be given after consultations with the parties involved.

(Source: Cyprus News Agency)

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