GCC Press Review 8 Nov 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

The proceeds from Aphrodite are between $6bn and $12bn

In the case the price of Brent Crude in international markets is between 60 and 80 dollars in 2022. The four steps up to the natural gas production in 2025 and what is the penalty for the companies. The formula adopted for the new contract is the same used for the contracts on the other blocks.

  • US Congress: Hits the breaks on the sanctions against Turkey
  • Reservists: Fines to those failing to show up

Phileleftheros

An end to the ‘golden business’

What preceded and what follows sink the citizenship scheme. Changes are expected in a month but also a slap from the European Commission.

  • The expected proceeds from Aphrodite are $9,5bn – Signatures for natural gas in 2025.
  • ‘Medusa 2020’ with also France’s participation

Haravgi

Ionas (Nicolaou) – (Constantinos) Petrides knew but kept quiet

Since August 2018 the police had informed in a letter the ministries of interior and justice but also other state services including MOKAS (Unit for Combating Money Laundering) that the Malaysian Jho Taek Low who was wanted had been traced in the Interpol’s database on financial offences. The police had received a message in 2016 but did not utilise it.

  • Fanfare over Aphrodite (gas reserve)
  • Professional soldiers (SYOP): Without regulations and with problems – The SYOP are facing serious problems. Some of them led thousands of them to leave. Draft dodgers dropped to 370 in 2019. There’s still a lot to be done. The National Guard’s strategic pillars on relations with the US and PESCO.
  • Sheep and goat farmers take to the streets over halloumi PDO registration

Cyprus Mail

‘New milestone in energy plans’

Lakkotrypis signs first hydrocarbon exploitation licence for the Aphrodite field.

  • Draft-dodging down by almost two thirds

Alithia

(Bank) charges soar so that (we are forced to) turn to e-banking

The banks carry on despite reactions this week in parliament. The Bank of Cyprus announced yesterday the new charges it will introduce from January 13, 2020.

  • The big step was made! – The contracts for the commercialisation of Aphrodite natural gas reserve were signed. Cyprus is turned for the first time to a natural gas producer. The estimated proceeds for the Republic from 2015 are 9,3bn dollars for an 18-year period.
  • Defence Ministers: Fines are on their way for no-shows by reservists
  • Occupied areas: They question the poll and see Erdogan behind it

Main News

Cyprus’ energy programme enters a new phase

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Energy, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

One of the most prominent items in papers on Friday is the announcement by the government of the signing of the contracts for the first hydrocarbon exploitation licence with the consortium Noble Energy, Shell, and Delek that is expected to yield proceeds to the tune of 9.3bn dollars from the exploitation of the Aphrodite gas reserve.

According to the dailies, the licence is for 25 years while production from Aphrodite is expected to begin in 2025. The agreement between the government and the consortium is based on a production and development programme that provides for the gas to be sent via a pipeline to a liquefaction facility in Idku, Egypt and later exported to Europe and elsewhere in the form of LNG. Shell that operates the Idku facility, will be the buyer of the gas.

Once production begins, Cyprus estimates to generate approximately $9.3 billion over an 18-year timeframe which is around $500m per year. The Aphrodite prospect holds 4.1 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Phileleftheros reports Cyprus’ net share is estimated between $6,3bn and $9,5bn. According to Politis, based on other scenarios on the price of Brent Crude, Cyprus’ proceeds could be between $6bn and $12,5bn. 

Before production, a second appraisal well at the gas reserve will be drilled expected to take place over the next 18 months, followed by a FrontEnd Engineering Design and, lastly, a final investment decision by the concessionaires.

The signing ceremony at the ministry of energy was attended by the ambassadors of the US, the UK and Israel.

Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said that this development was yet another milestone in Cyprus’ energy programme, demonstrating that, despite all the difficulties the programme is proceeding as planned.

“Cyprus is poised to become a natural gas producer and an alternative source of energy supply to the EU,” he said adding that at the same time, one more decisive step has been taken toward realising the shared vision of countries in the region to create a Mediterranean natural gas corridor to Europe.

He said benefits to Cyprus would be manifold. This concerns gas sales revenues, job creation, the acquisition of technical know-how and, strengthened relations with the countries involved in the project – Egypt, the US, Britain and Israel.

Haravgi reports that the government announced with much fanfare the date for the production of the natural gas and the expected proceeds despite it had readjusted the contract and its proceeds will depend on the international prices that are low and will continue to be in the next years. At the same time, Egypt herself is having difficulty in exporting her own gas while the Idku terminal is full to the brim, the daily said.

KEY ACTORS
Lakkotrypis
>>
Despite difficulties, the RoC’s energy programme is proceeding as planned & will turn Cyprus into a natural gas producer and an alternative source of energy supply to the EU.
>> The exploitation of Cyprus’ natural gas is a step toward the shared vision of countries in the region to create a Mediterranean natural gas corridor to Europe.


U.S. calls Turkey’s drilling off Cyprus “illegal”

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Energy, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that U.S. State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer said that his country has made clear to Turkey that drilling within the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ) was provocative and destroys the confidence between the two sides and undermine efforts to resolve the issue.

He was speaking to reporters during a visit to Athens.

Palmer said the US has made clear its concerns about Turkey’s drilling operations off Cyprus. This includes drilling in areas that Cyprus considers to be part of its EEZ and in particular drilling within 12 nautical miles from the Famagusta coast which the US has openly described as illegal as per the provisions of the Law of the Sea and the international law reflected in the UNCLOS Convention, Palmer said.

On the Cyprus issue, he said the US wants an agreement on the Terms of Reference (ToR) in that direction.

KEY ACTORS
Palmer (US)
>>
The US has made clear to Turkey that drilling within the Cypriot EEZ was provocative, destroys the confidence between the two sides & undermines efforts to resolve the issue.
>> Turkish drilling in areas Cyprus considers to be part of its EEZ including 12 nautical miles off Famagusta is illegal as per the provisions of the Law of the Sea and UNCLOS.
>> The US would like to see an agreement on the ToR as part of the Cyprob solution process.


‘UNFICYP successfully fulfilled its mandate’

Haravgi
External Security

OVERVIEW

The daily reports that Cyprus’ representative Doros Venezis stressed during a session of the UN General Assembly Fourth Committee that the existence, mandate, configuration and capabilities of a peacekeeping operation should not be determined by political expediencies and financial restrictions.

Efforts to cover the cost of maintaining peace should not be to the detriment of its optimal operation, he said.

The discussion was on the Global Assessment of Peacekeeping Operations. In his speech, Venezis said Cyprus has supported the United Nations ‘Action for Peacekeeping’ initiative from the outset, in order to make operations more effective and efficient in fulfilling the terms of their mandate.

He said that the Republic of Cyprus welcomes the United Nations’ efforts to increase women’s participation in peacekeeping operations, stressing that UNFICYP is a pioneer in implementing such policies, recalling that it was the first UN peacekeeping force to appoint a woman as Force Commander.

Referring to the presence of UNFICYP in Cyprus since 1964, he said the peacekeeping force was able to effectively fulfil the mandate assigned to it by the Security Council, by preventing the restart of conflict and helping to maintain stability. He added that UNFICYP has been subject to repeated evaluations and that recommendations have been fully implemented.

Venezis also expressed the gratitude of the Republic of Cyprus to the member states contributing military and police personnel to UNFICYP, the daily reported.

KEY ACTORS
Venezis (Cyprus’ representative to C4)
>>
Political expediencies & financial restrictions should not affect and determine the operations and mandate of peacekeeping forces.
>> The RoC welcomes UN efforts to increase women’s participation in peacekeeping operations.
>> UNFICYP effectively fulfils its mandate by preventing the restart of conflict & helping to maintain stability on the island.


Slashing army service duration led to drop in draft dodging

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
External Security, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that Defence Minister Savvas Angelides on Thursday briefed the House finance committee on his ministry’s vision and actions on the occasion of the presentation of the ministry’s budget.

Phileleftheros reports that the message Angelides sent out was that his ministry in cooperation with the National Guard General Staff focuses on national security and defence but also on security through the EU. The minister analysed Cyprus’ actions as part of PESCO and in the European programmes, the daily reported.

According to the papers, the minister also said that draft-dodging has been reduced to seven per cent from 20 per cent in 2016 after the government cut the army service to 14 months and put measures in place to discourage people from securing exemptions on medical grounds.

He also told MPs the government was also considering the introduction of on the spot fines for reservists who failed to report for duty. Angelides said fines would cut red tape and on the other hand, it would deter people from not showing up.

Haravgi reports that professional soldiers (SYOP) are facing very serious problems that lead to many of them walking out.

AKEL MP Costas Costa said the problems faced are due to the hurriedly prepared study following the government’s decision to hire professional soldiers and the lack of regulations.

Angelides said that they are now mulling over introducing promotions for the SYOP after a ten-year-service. He also said that a decision has been taken whereby the SYOP will be getting the same benefits as the rest of the National Guard personnel, the daily reported.


Farmers pressure the government to expedite halloumi PDO process

Alithia, Haravgi
EU Matters, Economy, CBMs

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that farmers’ associations called on the government to speed up procedures for the registration of halloumi as a protected designation of origin (PDO) product expressing fears that the traditional cheese’s nationality would be lost.

The farmers are to stage a protest on Friday morning outside the trade and commerce ministry.

During a press conference on Thursday farmers’ associations PEK, EKA, Panagrotikos, Nea Agrotiki Kinisi and Evrogarotikos but also the sheep and goat farmers said they want a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades.

The associations’ representatives said they want to avert the possibility of halloumi losing its nationality which would lead to the ruination of cheese production industries but also of cow, sheep and goat farmers. They called halloumi “white gold.”

PEK chairman Michalis Lyras said that Cyprus must insist on the registration of halloumi as PDO if it wants to protect it as a Cypriot product. He said that the reason behind this delay is the agreement between the two leaders during Jean Claude Juncker’s visit on the island to freeze the file following the demand by the Turkish side to changes to the Green Line Regulation so that animal products could cross from the occupied areas to the south.

The farmers said this is the first time they collectively express their concerns over the matter.