The maritime industry has been one of Cyprus’ most successful export services, with the island considered one of the top global hubs for ship owning and ship management services. Furthermore our integrated maritime cluster comprises of companies involved in marine insurance, equipment suppliers, telecommunications, and ship bunkering. The country is home as well to some of the world’s most influential names in shipping such as the German-owned Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the Russian Unicom Management Services, the Indian Fleet Management and Italian MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company. Today, Cyprus is the largest third-party ship management centre in Europe and the largest crew management centre in the world, while the island’s international ship register is the third largest in Europe and the 10th largest in the world.
In 2011, Cyprus confirms significant offshore reserves of approximately seven trillion cubic feet of natural gas. These reserves found in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) give rise to an ambitious energy strategy and create new challenges to our shipping industry. A whole new industry will be established in Cyprus to meet the needs of the offshore activities. It is anticipated that foreign shipping companies will relocate their offices and operations in our island in order to explore the benefits of the emerging East Mediterranean offshore market. According to a study by the Human Resources Development Authority, it is anticipated that more than 5000 jobs will be created in the hydrocarbon sector by 2019.
A dominant outlook at present is for Cyprus to export natural gas to Europe via an offshore subsea pipeline passing from Crete to the rest of Greece, connecting Cyprus’ natural gas to the rest of the existing pipelines. Interestingly, the prevailing options for storage of natural gas in Cyprus are:
- the installation of a Floating Storage and Re-gasification Unit (FSRU);
- natural gas pipeline installation for transporting Israel’s natural gas;
- importation of natural gas in the form of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
- construction of a small scale re-gasification unit.
In the context of the development of indigenous natural gas deposits, the Government has initiated all necessary actions for the establishment of a Natural Gas Liquefaction Plant at Vasilikos. This Plant will include facilities for the liquefaction of natural gas and the storage and export of LNG by tankers for transportation to the international markets. It is an ambitious project of strategic importance that will also be the largest investment in the history of the Republic of Cyprus. It marks for Cyprus and its citizens a very positive outlook for economic growth, especially given the fact that it will be expandable to serve not only the Cypriot natural gas deposits, but potentially the deposits of our neighboring countries.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Regulations, three types of licenses are prescribed:
- the prospecting license which is valid for up to a year and allows the holders of this license to conduct 2D or 3D seismic surveys and gravity and magnetic surveys;
- the exploration license which is valid for three years and offers the prospect of additional two renewals of the license. Simultaneously the exploration license offers the licensee with the right to carry out the same surveys as allowed under the prospecting license and additional exploratory drilling, whereas upon each renewal 25% of the initial area is relinquished, and 100% of the initial area is relinquished upon expiration of the license.
- the exploitation license which is granted primarily for 25 years which can be later renewed for up to 10 years upon the fulfillment of the licensee’s obligations.
At present, Noble Energy holds the license for offshore block 12, while the Republic has further awarded another four blocks in November 2012 as follows:
- Consortium made of Eni&Kogas (blocks 2 and 3)
- Consortium led by Total with Novatek and GPB Global Resources (block 9)
- Total (block 11).
- More recently, additional plots have been awarded to Total Eni and the ExxonMobile/Qatar Group.
Cyprus can develop into an important Energy Center in the Mediterranean. New and vibrant shipping and energy projects can be launched and the policy that the Cyprus Government will implement will include Cyprus’s future maritime transport needs for our hydrocarbons. In its capacity as a full member of the EU, coupled with its strategic geographical location, our country can constitute a stable and reliable bridge of cooperation between the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean with Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
THE OIL SECTOR
Cyprus is fully dependent on imported oil for its energy consumption and electricity generation. There are very low levels of diversity with regards to energy supply as oil imports dominate the market. The limited oil storage capacity of the country sets barriers to security of supply. The dependence of Cyprus on oil is expected to be reduced through the import of natural gas, up until the reserves offshore Cyprus are ready for exploitation, which is further expected to catalytically reduce dependence on oil.
Our legal services for the Energy industry encompass all aspects of transactions entailed in an energy venture. We offer our advice on the full range of issues in Energy and Natural Resources Law, including regulatory compliance, competition, mergers and acquisitions, financing, commercial and trading contracts, commercial and corporate advice and energy taxation issues. Moreover, our litigation practice strategically handles dispute resolutions in the energy industry.
Without limitation, the areas in which we render our expert legal advice to the Energy industry include:
- Oil and Gas exploration, licensing and regulation
- Oil and Gas distribution, licensing and regulation
- Oil and Gas commercial legal advice and counsel
- Oil and Gas commercial transactions drafting and advisory
- Electricity production and distribution licensing and regulation
- Electricity production and distribution commercial advice, drafting and counsel
- Renewable Energy Sources licensing and regulation
- Commercial energy matters, distribution and transactions
- Corporate energy matters, such as corporate structuring, taxation and governance
- Energy M&As, shareholders relationships and corporate transactions
- Energy dispute resolution and litigation
- Competition issues in energy markets, abuse of dominance
- Public Procurement legal issues
Admiralty and Shipping
Cyprus’s development into an international maritime centre began in 1963 when the government offered the first incentives aimed at the encouragement of ship ownership and registration of vessels under the Cyprus flag.
With the accession of Cyprus to the European Union and in order to harmonize with the EU Directives, Cyprus has ratified the extensive range of international conventions on maritime security, safety etc.
Due to the country’s excellent geographical position, the significant number of bilateral treaties for the avoidance of double taxation concluded by Cyprus and the favourable taxation regime which has been maintained even after the accession to the European Union, the Cyprus flag has had unprecedented success in the last few years, rising to a position of prominence in world shipping.
The Firm provides a wide spectrum of services in this field from conducting searches on ships files kept with the Department of Merchant Shipping to ship registration under the Cyprus flag. We advise owners, managers, charterers, freight forwarders and their respective insurers and help to resolve commercial and legal problems in Cyprus and abroad.