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Cyprus to invite expressions of interest for gas procurement 'soon'

ATHENS, (Reuters) - Cyprus plans to invite expressions of interest for the supply of natural gas soon, the head of its natural gas public company said, as it moves to cut its reliance on heavy fuel oil. Oil and gas company Energean said it had offered to build a pipeline from its Israeli offshore gas fields and sell 0.5 to 1 billion cubic metres of gas a year to the island.

Cyprus’ annual gas needs have been estimated in the past at about 1 bcm.

“A call for expressions of interest in the procurement of gas will be announced soon,” said Symeon Kassianides, chairman of the Cyprus Natural Gas Public Company, known as DEFA. He said Energean’s proposal was unsolicited.

“In this context Energean, like other interested companies, can express their interest. DEFA will invite all companies that meet the requirements to the next stage, that is to say proposals.”

Cyprus must switch its electricity generation to natural gas from heavy fuel oil by 2020 to avoid emissions fines from the European Commission. It has made several attempts in the past to import natural gas, but these were shelved each time for technical or cost reasons.

Cyprus discovered a small quantity of natural gas offshore in 2011, but it has yet to extract it. Earlier this year Italy’s Eni and France’s Total announced finding a promising prospect off Cyprus which is geologically similar to the mammoth Zohr field off Egypt. (Writing By Michele Kambas; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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