Day Five: Cement, Fish and Everything in Between

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Today was full of variety, from oil storage companies to mosques to beaches. We started with a visit to the Vassiliko Cement Works building where we got the opportunity to hear from their company, as well as from VTT Vassiliko. We were greeted with delicious snacks and coffee which was really welcoming of them. The Vassiliko Cement Works company was really interesting because it is the first company we visited that had a vertical integration structure where they handled everything from start to finish. They dug out their own raw materials, manufactured and processed their own cement, and then had their own port where they shipped it out. This means that they had a lot more things that they had to keep under control but it also allowed them flexibility and control over the entire upstream and midstream part of the supply chain. It was also interesting to hear how cement was the third largest export of the nation because of how the landmass formation allows for access to a lot of raw materials. We had the opportunity to see their plant and the control center which was extremely cool.

Then, we met with the executives of VTTV. We heard from the managing director, Mr. George Papanastasiou, the operations manager, Mr. Lambros Kyrlitsias, and the Customer Service Manager, Ms. Marina Andreou. They were all very enthusiastic and engaging and I really enjoyed the interactive nature of the Kahoot that they started with. VTTV serves as a part of the midstream and downstream parts of the global oil supply chain. They essentially serve as a hotel for oil which means they do not own the oil itself. The oil comes from oil mines and is transported to the VTTV storage terminal either directly or through ships. The services that VTTV provides to its customers include truck loading, marine operations, addivation, warehousing, and more. They have a jetty where ships can come to load off their oil. However, crew members must enter separately through a real port and go through customs. In contrast to the cement company, VTTV does not control the entire supply chain for oil from start to finish. It has very specified services that allow it to focus on providing the best service possible to its customers. We were able to tour the facilities and see the oil storage units and the jetties. One of my favorite things I learned about was the safety precautions in place to prevent incidents in the very fire-prone facilities. They place floating roofs on top of the oil, especially in containers that are not full, to minimize vaporization.

We also heard a lot about these companies wanting to move towards more sustainable practices for their companies. That has been a common trend for all of the companies we have visited where sustainability is one of the biggest issues they are actively addressing. I was surprised to hear how small the number of employees for both of the companies was. In the United States, I am used to hearing about the more popular companies having thousands of employees but many of the companies we have visited have a hundred or fewer. VTTV only had 50 which was really shocking to me but this further exemplifies the idea of how Cyprus is a small island country with a smaller industry.

Then, we had a very interesting lunch at the Koumbaris Fish Tavern. I have never seen that much seafood in my life! It was cool seeing people venturing out of their comfort zones to try all the different fish dishes. Then we had a pretty short visit to the Hala Sultan Tekke, which is the 3rd most important mosque for Muslims. It was very beautifully built with a very blue sea right in the background. We also got to see the tombs of the holy woman Umm Haram, which was something that I can definitely say I haven’t done before. After this, we headed to the Larnaca Old City where I enjoyed a nice swim on Finikoudes Beach.

Hala Sultan Tekke
The VTTV Jetties
Vassiliko Cement Works Plant

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