At an informational meeting co-organized by the European Parliament Office in Cyprus and the Cyprus Institute, on Friday, June 22, the results of the new CyI study on “Use of new technologies and environmental protection policy in offshore gas activities in the Eastern Mediterranean” were presented. The study presents an overview of the main risks to the environment and the safety of personnel and facilities, and the role that existing or emerging technologies play or will play in addressing them.
The informative meeting follows the submission of the results of this study to the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) committee, which initiated the study following a proposal by MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis. CyI was selected to carry out out the study following an evaluation process. The study highlights the importance of exploring the use of the best new technologies in order to make possible, and safe, the exploitation of natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, with complete security and protection for the environment and the region.
The meeting was attended by MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis, the President of the Cyprus Institute Prof. Costas Papanicolas, the Press Secretary of the European Parliament Office in Cyprus, Alexandra Attalidou, and CyI researcher Dr. Nestor Fylakos, who presented the results of the study. A videotaped message from Theodoros Karapiperis, Head of STOA was shown to the attendees. Also present was the President of the Friends of CyI Association, Dr. Petros Kareklas.
In his introductory speech, Mr. Sylikiotis pointed out that the Eastern Mediterranean has rare biodiversity, is a major attraction for tourism, and directly affects the lives and the health of the people in the area. In the event of an accident, such as the Deep Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the effects are expected to be even worse, due to the Eastern Mediterranean being a closed sea, and all countries in the region will be directly and indiscriminately affected.
"It is therefore important, before proceeding with natural gas exploration in the area, to study the best technologies and practices for environmental protection, and this study was entrusted to CyI due to its excellence and know-how in this field, and its collaborations with major and important institutions abroad, "said Mr. Sylikiotis. This is the first study assigned by STOA to an institution in Cyprus.
In his talk, Prof. Costas Papanicolas said that natural gas extraction creates a new framework for the protection of the environment, and offers both opportunities and risks. "The most important thing everyone has to understand, is that environmental protection is a regional problem that wants regional solutions," he said. "An accident in the EEZ of Cyprus, or Lebanon or Israel will be a serious problem with an impact on everyone in the region. The destruction of the environment does not recognize borders", he added.
In his presentation, CyI researcher, Dr. Nestor Fylaktos referred to the new technologies that are at the forefront of environmental protection in hydrocarbon extraction, and the main trends involve safer designs for critical equipment, automation of processes and equipment, data exchange and digitization, and new techniques for better environmental reference data (seismic surveys, etc.)
Dr. Fylaktos also spoke about the main risks to the environment and the safety of personnel and facilities during natural gas extraction, which are broadly summarized in three categories: explosive hydrocarbon outflows, offshore chemical discharges at sea, and greenhouse gas emissions.
The policies proposed by the study for addressing these risks are: environmental studies and equipment security, support for the collaboration and exchange of data between different companies and states in the region, and the emphasis on minimizing greenhouse gas emissions during the operations.
Mrs. Alexandra Attalidou, who co-ordinated the meeting, thanked everyone involved in producing this important study, especially Mr. Sylikiotis whose nitiative led to its creation within the context of STOA, an important European organization. Mrs. Attalidou pledged that within the year, her office will organize informational events so that Universities and research institutions in Cyprus can learn more about STOA and investigate potential collaborations.