Israel Takes Desalination Expertise to Cyprus

YERUSHALAYIM -
(L-R:) Ministers of Energy for Greece, Cyprus and Israel Yannis Maniatis, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis and Silvan Shalom attend the signing of a memorandum of understanding in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Thursday. The three countries pledged to cooperate on energy and water issues, welcoming joint projects in the energy sector to enhance a secure energy supply. (REUTERS/Andreas Manolis)
(L-R:) Ministers of Energy for Greece, Cyprus and Israel Yannis Maniatis, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis and Silvan Shalom attend the signing of a memorandum of understanding in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Thursday. The three countries pledged to cooperate on energy and water issues, welcoming joint projects in the energy sector to enhance a secure energy supply. (REUTERS/Andreas Manolis)

As part of outreach for regional cooperation on energy and water issues, Israel and Cyprus signed an agreement to build a desalination plant in Limassol to provide clean water for the seaport city for the next 20 years.

Greece was also in the picture on Thursday, co-signing a tripartite energy memorandum of understanding in Nicosia, Cyprus, with Israel’s Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom, Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Nicos Kouyialis, and Greek Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change George Lakkotrypis.

Shalom’s aides hailed the memorandum, which calls for an electric cable to link Israel and Cyprus’s grids, as “historic,” a positive development for the entire Mediterraean region.

A subsidiary of Mekorot, Israel’s National Water Company, has taken on the building of a 50-million-euro desalination plant in Limassol with a capacity of 40,000 to 60,000 cubic meters a day of water for local residents for the next 20 years.

“In a challenging reality, in which many countries are facing an existing or expected shortage of water, the solutions which Mekorot has to offer are of great importance,” said Mekorot CEO Shimon Ben-Hamo. “Israel and Cyprus, two countries small in size but large in their vision, prove that a disadvantage can be made into an advantage thanks to the common [desire for] a fruitful and prosperous life.”

Also on the agenda is the upgrading of a second seawater desalination plant in Lanarca, on the country’s eastern coast. The investment totals 17 million euros, with an estimated annual turnover rate of 7 million euros, the companies said.

The two desalination projects will eventually account for about 40 percent of the island’s water consumption.

The memorandum includes a joint declaration of intent to build a Euro-Asiatic electric cable linking the Israeli and Cypriot power grids within three years.

According to Shalom’s office, this would help solve southern Italy’s severe electricity shortage.

“The tripartite agreement was reached after many discussions, and demonstrates the strong and tightening relations between the countries,” Shalom said in Nicosia. “The electric conduit can easily become a cable that will supply and export electricity to the European energy market and provide us with energy security.”

The memorandum also states that the countries will cooperate to protect regionally important infrastructures in the Mediterranean where natural gas fields are located.