Cyprus’ plans to import natural gas to its energy mix face further delays as work on constructing the €300 mln Vasiliko LNG import terminal are held up as large quantities of chemicals are found buried at the site.
Initially planned to be completed in 2022, the construction of the LNG terminal was pushed back to July 2023 due to delays brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.
Phileleftheros daily reported that large quantities of phosphogypsum illegally deposited at the site must be removed before launching construction works.
The chemicals are buried at the site where supportive infrastructure for the LNG terminal is earmarked.
Phosphogypsum is the calcium sulphate hydrate formed as a by-product of fertiliser production from phosphate rock and illegally buried at the site.
The removal process requires special handling, as phosphogypsum is a dangerous chemical, while authorities are not clear on how to dispose of the materials.
Buried along with the phosphogypsum are also quantities of mercury and other radioactive materials that are known to cause cancer.
According to reports, the chemicals are buried deep into the ground, making them harder to extract.
However, the real issue for authorities is that Cyprus does not have facilities to dispose of such chemicals.
The state-owned Natural Gas Public Company (DEFA) will have to carry out a study to determine the effect of the phosphogypsum deposited at the site on the coast and the broader area.
If the area is contaminated by the chemicals, DEFA will have to study how the area is cleaned before construction begins.
Cyprus intends to import approximately 0.5 bcm of LNG through Gas Sale Purchase Agreements (GSPAs) for three to four years, maintaining the option to purchase LNG from SPOT markets.
The project is considered Cyprus’ largest energy venture.
It features an LNG floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), a jetty, mooring facilities, a pipeline, and other onshore and offshore related infrastructure.
The project will generate benefits worth €1.5 bln a year for the Republic of Cyprus.