Ever since the announcement, in late 2011, by Noble Energy of a significant gas find within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus, the country has been buzzing with a combination of excitement, speculation and anticipation of the economic and potential political benefits that this will bring.

The 'road map' to develop a sustainable oil and gas industry is long and will be challenging, especially in the deep waters offshore Cyprus, but one only has to look at Cyprus’s neighbours, Egypt and lately Israel, to realize that the Eastern Mediterranean is abundant with hydrocarbon reserves and the ultimate prize will be of enormous economic benefit.

There will be many opportunities to firm up on proven reserves and to explore how best to develop the required infrastructure, whether it be through offshore LNG facilities (FLNG), an onshore LNG terminal (at Cyprus’s Vasilikos site), or gas gathering and exporting through export pipeline systems. Even then, there is uncertainty at present as to the most appropriate route and ultimate destination of hydrocarbon exports and in relation to the most efficient exploitation of internal and external markets. Cyprus’s needs are small and will be easily met; exports to external markets including Europe, Asia as well as local regional markets, could form part of a long-term strategy to ensure the security of gas supply to such markets. Geo-strategic factors will play a big part in the solutions which are ultimately adopted.

The point is that we are at an early stage of development; the Council will leverage its network and know-how in the UK and internationally, using the many Cypriot-origin professionals who have not only participated in the development of the North Sea oil and gas sector but, also, those who have worked in the international arena, and will engage with relevant stakeholders, in order to influence the debate and seek favourable outcomes for Cyprus and Cyprus-UK and regional alliances beneficial to the island and its strategic partners.

In time, opportunities will open up for a wide variety of oil service companies, contractors, engineers, financial and legal support services, logistics and many other associated support sectors; our challenge is to focus our efforts, prioritise and help facilitate inward investment to support and sustain the development of the oil and gas infrastructure and related industries which are essential to the efficient exploitation of the island’s hydrocarbon resources.

In addition to developments relating to oil and gas exploration, the Council will also give attention to the renewable energy sector which represents an investment and growth opportunity on the island.