Egypt, Cyprus officials intensify talks over joint gas pipeline project

The Egyptians and Cypriots have remained confident of implementing the initiative to schedule. (AFP)
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Updated 01 September 2020

Egypt, Cyprus officials intensify talks over joint gas pipeline project

  • Previous government statements have said that Egypt would start receiving Cypriot gas during 2022

CAIRO: Egyptian and Cypriot officials have intensified discussions over preparations for a joint gas pipeline project aimed at transforming Egypt into a regional energy trade hub, a government source revealed on Monday.

According to the official, the joint scheme would see natural gas from the offshore Aphrodite gas field in Cyprus piped to liquefaction plants (which convert gas into a liquid state) in Egypt for re-export to European countries and for use in local markets.

Previous government statements have said that Egypt would start receiving Cypriot gas during 2022.

Despite major disruptions to many global development projects due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Egyptians and Cypriots have remained confident of implementing the initiative to schedule.

The negative impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on national economies around the world will force many countries to act quickly to compensate for losses, leading to an upswing in demand for energy to drive industrial growth, the source said.

Egypt and Cyprus signed an agreement on Sept. 19, 2018 to establish a direct marine pipeline.

During a virtual meeting, Egyptian Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Tariq Al-Mulla and Cypriot Minister of Energy Natasa Pilides discussed cooperation between the two countries in the field of oil and natural gas and ongoing collaboration under the regional EastMed Gas Forum platform.

Egypt has two natural gas liquefaction plants, one east of Alexandria at Idku owned by Egyptian Liquefied Natural Gas, and the other in the port city of Damietta belonging to the Spanish-Italian Union Fenosa.

The government’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources contributes to the Idku plant through the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co. (EGAS) by 12 percent, the Egyptian General Petroleum Corp. (EGPC) also by 12 percent, Shell by 35.5 percent, and Malaysia’s oil and gas company Petronas with 35.5 percent. French multinational Total now contributes about 5 percent to the plant.

Spanish company, Union Fenosa, manages the Damietta site where 80 percent of the project is under joint ownership between Union Fossa and Eni with the EGPC and the EGAS owning the rest of the shares at 10 percent each.
 


Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

Updated 20 October 2020

Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

  • Both sides call on each other to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors

BRUSSELS: Britain and the EU said on Monday the door was still open for a deal on their post-Brexit relationship, calling on each other to compromise to find a way to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors.

With just over two months before Britain ends a status quo transition arrangement with the EU, talks on a trade deal are deadlocked, with neither wanting to move first to offer concessions.

A no-deal finale to Britain’s five-year Brexit drama would disrupt the operations of manufacturers, retailers, farmers and nearly every other sector — just as the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic repeated on Monday that the EU still wanted a trade deal but not “at any cost” after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday there was no point in continuing talks.

“It has to be a fair agreement for both sides — we are not going to sign an agreement at any cost,” Sefcovic told reporters after meeting Michael Gove, Britain’s point man on the existing divorce agreement, in London.

“The EU is ready to work until the last minute for a good agreement for both parties,” Sefcovic said.

Britain, increasingly frustrated by the EU’s refusal to start text-based talks, called on the bloc to make the first move, with its housing minister saying that Brussels only had to make “some relatively small but important changes.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick called on the EU to “go that extra mile, to come closer to us on the points that remain for discussion.”

A spokesman for Johnson again ruled out prolonging any negotiation beyond the end of this year, when the transition period runs out, saying the EU “must be ready to discuss the detailed legal text of a treaty in all areas with a genuine wish to respect UK sovereignty and independence.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had been due in London for talks with British counterpart David Frost this week. Instead, they will now speak by telephone on Monday to discuss the structure of future talks, Barnier’s spokesman said.

Negotiations broke down on Thursday, when the EU demanded Britain give ground. Issues still to be resolved include fair competition rules, including state aid and fisheries. EU diplomats and officials cast Johnson’s move as a frantic bid to secure concessions before a last-minute deal was done, and European leaders have asked Barnier to continue talks.

British officials have repeatedly said any deal has to honor Britain’s new status as a sovereign country and not try to tie it to EU rules and regulations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said compromises on both sides would be needed. French President Emmanuel Macron said Britain needed a deal more than the 27-nation EU.

Britain is launching a campaign this week urging businesses to step up preparations for a no-deal departure. In a statement accompanying the launch, Gove says: “Make no mistake, there are changes coming in just 75 days and time is running out for businesses to act.”

More than 70 British business groups representing over 7 million workers on Sunday urged politicians to get back to the negotiating table next week and strike a deal.