President Nikos Christodoulides on Saturday paid a visit to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal ahead of the now-confirmed restart of construction work.

Speaking to journalists at the site, he said, “one of the government’s main goals is to reduce the price of electricity.”

“We know very well that this is something which impacts households and businesses,” he said, adding that the LNG terminal’s eventual coming into operation will help reduce costs for consumers.

“The operation of the terminal is a key component towards what we want to achieve, what we have promised. We will achieve reductions in the price of electricity through this and also through other actions we are taking as a government, including, for example, renewable energy sources,” he said.

Another action, he said, is the proposed electrical interconnector which would connect the electricity systems of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel.

Asked about progress towards the floating storage and re-gasification unit, which had also been included in the contract for the terminal signed in 2019, he said it is “part of the whole effort.”

“Yesterday, some decisions were made about how we will proceed in the immediate future, and we will discuss all this again today with [Energy Minister] Papanastasiou and the company,” the Chinese-led CPP-Metron Consortium Ltd (CMC).

Earlier, Papanastasiou had confirmed that construction of the terminal is set to recommence, following a meeting between his ministry and CMC on Friday.

He said the meeting “took place in an extremely good atmosphere”, and that “we have agreed on four or five measures which each side will take so the terminal can be completed.”

He clarified that his ministry had not entered any fresh contractual obligations, “because the Natural Gas Infrastructure Company (Etyfa) and the Natural Gas Public Company (Defa) were not present at the meeting.”

The meeting, he said was between a delegation from his ministry and a delegation from the CMC.

“Some of them came from China specifically for this meeting and some others were from the company’s local structure,” he added.

Evaluating the meeting, he said “the bottom line is that the ministry will create an action group, which will work with engineers who will monistor the project from the ministry’s point of view without getting involved with Etyfa’s or Defa’s contractual obligations.”

The action group, he said, “will essentially be an intermediary between the groups.”

In addition, he said, his ministry will monitor the project “so as to be able to manage issues related to relations between the stakeholders, to ensure that payments are made on time, and that projects are progressing according to the agreements.”

He added that the matter of the floating unit will be discussed next week via a video call involving the CMC, his ministry, Etyfa, and the Ship classification society.

He said the floating unit is “almost ready” and “probably more than 95 per cent complete”, but that it will have to be certified before it can sail to Cyprus.

Also next week, he said, a schedule will be drawn up for the terminal’s completion and delivery.

He said, “it should be something that will be feasible and realistic,” and that “the entire development of the construction and completion process will be monitored very closely.”

Asked about what the completion of the project means for Cyprus, he said “our goal is to reduce the cost of electricity production, which is high in Cyprus due to the fact that we currently only generate it through conventional methods.”

“The switchover to natural gas should already have been made, but now where we are it should be done as soon as possible,” he said.

He added that natural gas is more environmentally friendly than fuel oil burning, and that “the cost of pollutants which will be passed on to the consumer will be seriously reduced; by about 40 per cent.”

On Friday, CMC said they are “grateful and thankful that the minister was prepared to [meet], given that all requests for meetings with Etyfa have either been ignored or rebuffed.”

“CMC is greatly impressed with the minister’s positive outlook and energetic approach to complete this project,” they added.

Papanastasiou had said earlier this month that the government had not ruled out terminating the deal, and insisted as late as Thursday that the government does have a ‘plan B’ regarding the terminal.

CMC had halted work on the terminal in late January, severing communication with Etyfa.

Source: Cyprus Mail – By Tom Cleaver