Cyprus MPs to ratify EastMed pipeline accord

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A majority of Cyprus MPs expressed their willingness to approve the EastMed gas pipeline agreement signed with Israel and Greece.

They reviewed the political and legal framework of the EastMed Agreement, an ambitious plan to build a €7 bln pipeline to mainland Europe.

The EastMed Agreement was signed on January 2, in Athens, between the three countries, while there was also a political commitment from Italy to sign it.

Italy has yet to sign the agreement quoting environmental concerns.

The pipeline is an EU project of common interest (PCI) and aims to provide for the commercial exploitation of natural gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee, George Lillikas said afterwards: “The agreement is of great political importance as Turkey continues to violate the sovereign rights of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone while continuing to challenge agreements signed with Israel and Egypt.”

“The agreement, which is based on the Law of the Sea and European Law, further strengthens the position of the Cyprus Republic.”

Energy Ministry official Stelios Chimonas said the Agreement ensures the necessary legal and political support to the companies that will be investing in Cyprus natural gas fields.

He said that some preliminary studies funded by the EU have been carried out, while recently the project promoter announced a tender for plans on the offshore parts of the project worth €2.4 bln.

DISY MP Nicos Tornaritis said that the pipeline will offer a reliable gas transport route and for this reason, his party will be voting in favour of ratifying the agreement.

Opposition AKEL MP George Loukaides said his party was in favour of the project from the outset, noting the pipeline will not be constructed by governments but by companies and that the agreement is a political, institutional, and legal agreement that governs this project.

“We are at a very early stage and while much is being said, more actions are to follow.”

He said companies are still waiting for feasibility studies to be completed to be in a position to judge whether the investment is technically feasible and commercially profitable.

Greece has already ratified the accord signed in Athens.

The EastMed project has already secured €35 mln in EU funding for four studies that are ready to be tendered.

The pipeline is expected to carry 9 to 12 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year from offshore reserves held by Israel and Cyprus to Greece, and then on to Italy and other south-eastern European countries.