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Cyprus Internet Directory [ State sticks to LNG plans ]

State sticks to LNG plans

THE GOVERNMENT yesterday announced that the decision to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) was final, despite overwhelming evidence pointing towards the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) for Cyprus.

Christofias said yesterday that the government would stick to its decision in favour of LNG as an alternative energy source as the “necessary conditions for solving our energy problem in the correct way given the circumstances”.

Yesterday, Commerce Minister Antonis Paschalides said that the decision for LNG was “irrevocable”, adding that he was not prepared to enter into academic discussions for alternative solutions, as this would be repeating the mistakes of the past.

The government has been criticised in the last week after a group of experts on natural gas called on them to re-think their decision, saying that the import of LNG to Cyprus made no sense at all. The group said the import of compressed natural gas would be more practical, cheaper, carried less environmental risks and would in general be much more beneficial to an island community the size of Cyprus.

Paschalides expressed maintained that the import of CNG to Cyprus would be too risky, saying that he was not prepared to “jeopardise €500 million so that Cyprus was innovative, the money of the Cypriot people would be spent in secure investments”.

Speaking from Canada yesterday, President and CEO of Sea NG Corporation, a world leader in marine compressed natural gas (CNG) transportation, David Stenning told the Cyprus Mail that taking CNG off the agenda was “not a smart move” from the Cypriot government.

“I must say I am quite disappointed with something like this. Cyprus is the ideal place for compressed natural gas, it has everything going for it,” he said.

Stenning spoke of the changes that have taken place since Cyprus decided back in 1999 on the import of natural gas, meaning that there were no lingering questions over the safety and reliability of CNG.

“Issues regarding safety and reliability should be taken out of the equation. It is a complete ‘red herring’. We have come a long way technically in the last 10 years with the development of our Coselle technology.

“As was demonstrated in the meeting last Wednesday safety is not a concern and it can be as reliable as you want to pay for. We can also work with the Cyprus Electricity Authority for peak times of electricity consumption, while CNG does not have to be independent of LNG or diesel fuel, it can be complementary,” he added.

The CEO of Sea-NG also said that Cypriots should not be worried of any hidden agenda, maintaining that any deal would be straightforward.

“From our perspective it is simple. If for any reason our ships do not show up then Cyprus doesn’t pay. If Egypt doesn’t sell the gas that is not our problem, but Egypt has been very reliable supplier of natural gas for the last 25-30 years, maybe even more, so they really have nothing to win from doing something that would lose them that reputation.

“With all due respect to Cyprus, they know a lot more about natural gas, so why would they take the risk?” he said.

Stenning reiterated that his company could secure a fleet of three ships to Cyprus within 30 months, two and a half years before the expected completion of the LNG land terminal at Vasiliko.

According to information obtained by the Mail, Cyprus was twice offered a deal by Egypt for the transfer of compressed natural gas to the island. The first offer was made in 2005 and was rejected by the Cypriot government, while the latest was made in December last year.

According to Egyptian Ambassador Ahmed Ibrahim Ragheb, seven months on, they have received no notification from the Cypriot government regarding the proposal.

“There was an offer made after the conference of Euro-Mediterranean Energy Conference in Limassol when the Egyptian Energy Minister stayed in Cyprus for an additional two days to hold bilateral meetings with the Cypriot Commerce Minister at the time,” he said.

“During those meetings we told them that compressed natural gas was the best for Cyprus. They asked for an offer and within a month we sent it to them. After that they said that they would study it and we still have not received an answer.

“The issue was discussed again when I met the new Commerce Minister earlier this year and he said the same thing, that he would be discussing it at the Council of Ministers. We are still waiting. Egypt is always here for Cyprus,” added Ragheb.

The use of compressed natural gas has been on the increase in world markets recently due to the fact that it is a cleaner and cheaper alternative to petrol and diesel.

IEV (Innovative Engineering Ventures) Group of Companies is set to launch its first compressed natural gas (CNG) plant in Cikarang, Jakarta, on Saturday, while it has also announced that it will be setting up two other plants in Jakarta by the end of the year.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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