Synergies ‘magic word’ for regional natural gas

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Synergies are the ‘magic word’ for developing the region’s natural gas resources, Energy Minister George Papanastasiou told a summit in Limassol.

At the Eastern Mediterranean Energy Conference, Papanastasiou said companies look for faster investment returns as the energy transition emphasises renewables and makes energy investments accordingly.

“Nowadays, with the shorter life span of natural gas because of the targets for renewables, we understand that synergies are what investors should be looking for”.

Papanastasiou presented the ‘Gas to Power’ project, a plan for shaping Cyprus’ energy mix.

He noted that Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) will be introduced for power generation for the domestic market via the Natural Gas Company (DEFA).

At the same time, Cyprus will increase its renewable energy, which could be exported via the EuroAsia Interconnector, a high-frequency cable linking Cyprus, Greece and Israel.

On Cyprus’ natural gas discovery, he said the option is to transfer it to Egypt for domestic demand or liquefaction and export to markets.

Options such as import to Cyprus and liquefaction and export via small LNG plants of modular technology remain on the table.

Papanastasiou added that Cyprus could not become an energy hub for the region as it lacks the necessary infrastructure compared with neighbouring Israel and Egypt.

“Given the background of Egypt and Israel, they are well ahead of natural gas resources because of the infrastructure already being used”.

Kimberly Harrington, US Assistant Deputy Secretary of State Bureau for Energy, said, “Despite these trying times, the US remains strongly committed to regional cooperation, especially on energy.”

She pointed out initiatives such as the three-plus-one dialogue between Israel, Greece and Cyprus with the US and the EMGF forum.

“Energy partnership and regional energy integration are key, and really no place embodies that more than the Eastern Med”.

She said developing the island’s natural resources would benefit Cyprus and the region, noting the US’s “fundamental goal is energy security and cooperation in the region.”

Wissam Chbat, Board member and former Chair of Lebanon’s Petroleum Authority said he hopes not only for a discovery of natural gas reserves in Lebanon but also for one that could be monetised.

Chbat said that Egypt is well suited to be a hub for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Toula Onoufriou, Chair of Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company (CHC), which advises the government on natural gas, said the island has an estimated 15 trillion cubic feet in five gas discoveries in its EEZ.

Describing the natural gas development in the Cyprus EEZ, Onoufriou said four discoveries, namely Calypso, Cronos, and Zeus, all in block 6, and Glaucus in block 10 are in the appraisal process, while Aphrodite in block 12 is at the “select” monetisation stage.

“The quality of decisionmaking at appraisal and select stages are of paramount importance, and the Ministry of Energy, with support by the CHG, has a critical role in understanding, influencing, and supporting investors’ decisions at these crucial stages”.