NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus plans to introduce natural gas into the energy market by 2009 and will hold an international tender this year to build the infrastructure, a senior official said yesterday. The island’s Commerce Minister George Lillikas said Cyprus needed to clinch a supply network soon as demand for the commodity was on the rise. «The outlook suggests that in the future international demand for natural gas will outstrip supply. Therefore it is very important to tap a supply source,» Lillikas told the Simerini newspaper in an interview. Cyprus now relies almost exclusively on heavy fuel oils to fire its power stations. Authorities are on schedule to meet a government target to introduce and distribute natural gas by 2009, he said. Cyprus, in the far eastern corner of the Mediterranean, signed an agreement with its southern neighbor Egypt last year which included exports of liquefied natural gas. «Fortunately the countries which have the ability to supply us with gas are all very friendly toward Cyprus,» Lillikas said. Lillikas said an energy park in the pipeline on the southern coast of Cyprus would also include a plant to reheat the gas and storage facilities.