On 12 June, Androulla Kaminara (EU Fellow at the European Studies Centre) gave the latest of her SEESOX seminars on the subject of Cyprus natural gas. Confirmed deposits were in the region of 5 trillion cubic feet; the full potential was likely to be considerably higher than this. More than one pipeline would be required; and also Greek Cypriot political leaders had decided there should be a LNG facility at Vassilikos. Cyprus currently has very expensive electricity, so much of the gas would be retained for domestic consumption rather than exported.
Elsewhere in the region, the first gas from Israeli off-shore fields was already flowing, and 52 international companies were interested in Lebanese off-shore gas. Turkey was heavily gas-dependent. World-wide, the energy market was volatile, with the financial crisis encouraging the search for cheaper energy, the shale gas bonanza in the US, Germany moving away from nuclear power, and 33% more energy needed by the world over the next 15 years. The conclusions of the EU Energy Council in June referred to “indigenous energy sources”, which was new wording.
Androulla floated some ideas: the EU itself to play a greater role in EEZ negotiations, Cyprus to apply the “Alaskan model” to gas profits to benefit citizens, more Mediterranean cooperation on environmental protection. She then answered questions on these and other points. LNG from Cyprus might be in production by 2020; financial crises had tended to push environmental aspects own the agenda; and a European Parliament report on shale gas had recommended leaving decisions to member states.