The company was set up in March 2014 as a state commercial arm that is responsible for the development of hydrocarbon resources in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the sale of the share of resources which belong to Cyprus. It also participates in the management committees established for the reference of the contracts signed by the government with international companies operating in the republic.
The beginning of selling LNG overseas, primarily in Europe, would mean the realization of plans of the European Union and the United States which have been promoted the idea of establishing a regional energy hub in Cyprus able to offer an alternative corridor for energy supplies from the Eastern Mediterranean to the continent. These plans have been nurtured by the authorities of the republic for about two years and in recent months received strong support from Washington and Brussels due to the worsening of the crisis in Ukraine and a threat to gas supplies to Europe from Russia.
"We are pleased that the geopolitical situation in the region and some of the changes on the international scene, particularly in Europe, have led to increased interest in Cyprus," said Onoufriou. "We hope that it will help us to grow in the right direction. Hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean region are essential from the point of view of ensuring the energy security of Europe, which is increasingly concerned with the need to create alternative routes of supply and diversifying the energy sources. Given that Cyprus is a country of the EU and has its own natural gas reserves, the republic can contribute to energy security, becoming an energy hub in the region with the necessary infrastructure."
For these ambitious plans to be fulfilled, the government needs to build an LNG plant the cost of which can amount roughly to half of the GDP of the republic. The main priority and strategic objective of the Republic of Cyprus is the development of an onshore LNG plant, said the president of CHC as this provides added value and flexibility to the country. "This will help to achieve a number of important objectives. First, it will give us the opportunity to export gas to world markets without any obstacles. Secondly, it will create a large number of new jobs, which is very important for the country and its economy at present. Another key point is that this opens up opportunities for cooperation with neighbouring countries-Israel, Lebanon, Egypt - that brings us closer to the goal of transforming Cyprus into an energy hub in the region," Onoufriou said.
"Within 6-12 months period we will be able to make strategic decisions on further steps," Onoufriou said. "If we get confirmation on the availability of sufficient quantities of the gas, we will continue to develop plans for the construction of an onshore plant, if not - we will have to consider other alternatives which are currently being examined.. Among the alternatives, she said, there is the possibility of constructinga floating LNG plant, which has limitations as to production volume and flexibility in increasing their capacity, compared to an onshore plant. Other options include pipelines to the regional market which are currently being examined."
"Cyprus, of course, wants to develop this opportunity for the benefit of the country and we want to develop it as soon as possible. It is important not to rush things, we need to examine the various alternatives and work towards developing the right environment and preconditions for success in this area for the benefit of our country," Onoufriou said.