Delays and hurry to blame for latest fiasco
After sitting in a tanker off the coast of Limassol for two weeks, the 35,000 tonnes of water cargo that was supposed to be pumped to the national grid Tuesday has been found to be unsuitable for drinking and will be taken to Yermasoyia dam instead.
The Water Development Department (WDD) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources announced that the water stored in the Ocean Tankers ship Westama was found to have “limited alteration to its quality which is reflected in its organic features and in particular its smell.”
The last-minute decision to divert the water came just as the underwater pipeline was finally connected to the overground facility and was based on the latest State Lab report that found “very good microbiological quality, there was no migration of the ships’s own materials, while the heavy toxic metals were untraceable, as were the nitric salts.”
According to the results, the water was not found to be altered and seemed to satisfy all EU requirements, but the decision to pump the water to the dam was based purely as a precaution.
This final episode concludes the water saga that saw CSE-listed Ocean Tankers rush to the island’s rescue promising to resolve the acute water shortage problem by shipping water from Greece.
The Westama was the first tanker that arrived with a few days’ delay on June 30 only to anchor off the coast of Limassol as the pipeline, sub-contracted by Ocean Tankers to EDP was not yet ready. This delay sparked a flurry of accusations and hard talk by the Minister of Agriculture who threatened the joint venture with sanctions and penalties. Tempers soon died down after EDP officials said they could not be blamed as they had clearly stated that they would deliver the pipeline by mid- or late-July, while the contract had initially stated late-August.
The contract is for the supply of 8 mln tonnes over 160 days until mid November.
The next Ocean Tankers ship is now expected to load another cargo of 57,000 tonnes of water and embark from Greece.
In all, six tankers will be used for the transport of the water to Cyprus from the Greek port of Elevsina, all of which are either leased by Ocean Tankers or the company has an option to buy. The only limitation is the maximum draught of 10 metres to allow ships to pass through the Salamina straights.
The government of Cyprus is footing the bill of EUR 40 mln, of which EUR 5 mln is paid to Greece for the water supply and EUR 35 mln to the tanker company.
The water problem is considered as critical as the island’s two desalination plants are running at full capacity and a third is to come on line later this year, probably in October.
Reservoirs were 7.5% full at the end of June, while new water wells have also been tapped. In some areas, such as five villages near Limassol, are being supplied with bottled water after it was discovered that their water supply had become contaminated.
Financial Mirror, July 16, 2008