China is looking at playing a role in Cyprus’ multi-billion-dollar plans to develop the island’s natural gas reserves, including possible investment in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal, it was reported yesterday.

Cyprus hopes to attract large investors to take a stake in its gas fields, an option which a Chinese delegation is in Cyprus to discuss.

“There is very strong interest from China… in energy, in the whole value chain, upstream, downstream and midstream,” Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis told.

He said the Chinese delegation includes China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation.

He also said delegates were interested in the development of an LNG export terminal, including potentially a floating LNG facility (FLNG).

“The Chinese delegation will also discuss taking a stake in Cypriot gas fields,” a source with the delegation has said.

China is seeking to access new gas sources around the world as its energy demand rises and the government encourages industry to move to cleaner gas from coal.

Italian energy major ENI is also interested in Cyprus’ gas fields, and is set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government over the construction of an LNG export terminal.

ENI has already signed an exploration and production-sharing contract with the government to search in three offshore areas, with exploration expected to begin in the second half of this year.

However, the project has been thrown into doubt when drilling results revealed smaller reserves than initially hoped.