NICOSIA A unit of one of the world's largest energy traders Vitol will complete construction of an extensive storage tank farm in Cyprus by the end of 2014, company executives said on Wednesday.
The 300 million euro ($388.87 million) project in the Vassiliko area on the south coast of Cyprus will create terminal capacity of 643,000 cubic meters to hold gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, gasoil and MTBE.
VTTV, the Cyprus-registered unit of Vitol Tank Terminals International (VTTI), launched construction work on the island in early 2011. VTTI is a 50/50 venture between Vitol and Malaysian shipping company MISC Bhd.
Its first and second phases would be completed in the first quarter of 2014 and its third phase at the end of 2014, VTTV Managing Director George Papanastasiou said.
"Cyprus is ideally placed for this kind of activity...the eastern Mediterranean is a key juncture for fuel transportation from the Black Sea region towards Asia," Papanastasiou told reporters during a site tour on Wednesday.
Ships carrying fuel from the Black Sea region to the Asian market now conduct transfers onto larger vessels in seas around Cyprus, which lies north of the Suez Canal and the gateway to Asia from the region, because of ship capacity constraints on the Straits of Bhosphorus.
Some 250 such ship-to-ship transfers took place last year, representing 9.6 million tonnes of fuel, Papanastasiou said.
VTTV expects it will serve 550 ships per year when it is fully operational. It is constructing a four-berth 1.2 km long jetty capable of loading or discharging 1,250 cubic meters per hour, and serving larger suezmax vessels.
($1 = 0.7715 euros)
(Writing By Michele Kambas; editing by James Jukwey)