Cyprus should explore the notion of developing a petrochemical industry in parallel to natural gas regional exports, experts told participants at the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Conference in Nicosia.
Symeon Kassianides, CEO of Hyperion Systems Engineering group said such an industry could potentially lead to foreign investments amounting to 4 billion and in the creation of 3,000 jobs in the period of construction. This idea has also been supported by Solon Kassinis, former head of the Ministry of Commerce`s Energy Service and former Greek PM Antonis Samaras` energy advisor. “Gas-to petrochemicals project can be a building block for the sustainable economic development through the inception of industrial sector,” Kassianides said. The comments came as Cyprus is about to engage in talks with to explore ways to export natural gas from its Aphrodite offshore concession, that holds a gross resource of 4.50 trillion cubic feet (tcf), as well as to carry gas for electricity generation in Cyprus via a pipeline.
He noted that the creation of a petrochemicals industry would increase the required natural gas quantity of natural gas to be transported to Cyprus thereby rendering a pipeline connecting the Aphrodite gas field with the Cypriot shores. According to Kassianides, the potential gas field production is estimated at 800 MMSC (million standard cubic feet) whereas the estimates for the Cyprus gas demands reach only 100 MMSC (corresponds to 1 billion cubic metres).
He noted that petrochemical industry could include a methanol plant with a capital expenditure amounting to €1 billion requiring 100 MMSCF of natural gas, an Ammonia Urea factory (a fertilizer element) with an investment in the region of €1.4 billion and a required volume of 160 MMSCF per day. Moreover the industry could also include an MTO plant (Methanol to Olefin) with a capital expenditure of 2,5 billion and a required quantity of 240 MMSCF. Kassianides pointed out that the MTO plant would increase the demand for methanol rendering the methanol plant more economically viable.
Moreover, the noted that two foreign companies are interested in investing in such infrastructure in Cyprus. Namely Methanex and Maire Technimont. He added that Methanx owns a methanol plant in Egypt which is currently offline as all gas quantities in the country are allocated for the domestic power demand.
On his part, Kassinis described the prospect of allocating natural gas reserves to a petrochemical industry as very serious and significant.
“We should definitely focus on this issue, and particular importance should be given to this sector,” he said speaking to CNA on the sidelines of the EMGC.