A senior delegation from CNOOC met last Friday with the ad hoc ministerial committee handling energy issues, “to present their views on how to proceed with an LNG terminal here,” said Commerce Minister Praxoulla Antoniadou.
“The company had asked us for the meeting, and of course we said yes, as we are currently examining all scenarios,” Antoniadou told the Mail.
Though not going into detail, the minister said that the government made it clear to the Chinese that the Cypriot state should have control over a possible national oil company.
Antoniadou denied press reports that CNOOC submitted a proposal to buy off exploration and exploitation rights in Block 12, the prospect under concession to Noble Energy.
“They told us no such thing. There was no discussion about blocks,” she said.
Antoniadou also declined to comment on reports that CNOOC proposed to have an LNG plant up and running within just 48 months from the start of construction.
Another sensational report over the weekend even suggested that the Chinese giants were considering an outright buyout of Noble and Delek, partners in the Israeli gas prospects.
The CNOOC Group is a state-owned oil company, fully owned by the government of the People’s Republic of China. It has become China’s dominant producer of liquefied natural gas in the past few years, and is the first company to bring LNG to China, with the completion of its Dapeng LNG Terminal in Guangdong.
In June 2005, CNOOC made an all-cash $18.5 billion offer to buy American oil company Unocal Corporation, topping an earlier bid by ChevronTexaco. It subsequently withdrew its bid, citing political tension inside the United States.
Last month Cyprus launched a second licensing round for 12 blocks in its offshore Exclusive Economic Zone, excluding the prospect in which Noble tapped a sizeable reserve last year.
On Sunday Interior Minister Neoklis Silikiotis, who sits on the ad hoc ministerial committee, said several companies have expressed an interest in the licensing round.
The establishment of a national oil company as soon as possible was a top priority for the government, Silikiotis added:
“We shall set up a corporation which will be the strategic partner of all the companies and will be involved in matters of local infrastructure as well as the distribution of natural gas to the world market.”
Meanwhile yesterday minister Antoniadou, head of the Energy Service Solon Kassinis and a team of technocrats flew out to the UK were they will be attending the APPEX (American Association of Petroleum Geologists Prospect and Property Expo) 2012 taking place in London this week. There the Cypriot delegation will be presenting and promoting the second licensing round.
And Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Markoullis was in Norway yesterday for official talks, which included possible cooperation in the field of hydrocarbons. Markoullis met with Norway’s State Secretary at the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy Per Rune Henriksen.
By Elias Hazou
Published on March 6, 2012