Energy Reserves No Quick Fix for Cyprus
By Sarah Kent
The discovery of significant energy reserves in the eastern Mediterranean over the past two years has been held up as a beacon of hope for debt-crippled Cyprus.
Top officials have repeatedly highlighted the prospect of future income from the gas reserves as a way out of the country’s current economic mess. Most recently, President Nicos Anastasiades said Cyprus would compensate bank depositors who have lost out under the terms of a European Union bailout with future natural gas proceeds.
But this will provide little comfort in the near term for Cypriots who are looking at a tax of between 3% and 15% on their savings, because revenues from natural gas are still a long way off.
In late 2011 Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. discovered gas reserves of up to 8 trillion cubic feet in the waters near Cyprus. Several major oil companies participated in an auction for exploration licenses in Cyprus last year, including France’s Total SA , Italy’s Eni SpA and South Korea’s Korea Gas Corp.
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