By SUMMER SAID
DUBAI -- Qatar promised Egypt five free shipments of LNG
this summer after a meeting of representatives from the two
countries' governments in Doha, giving cash-strapped Egypt a
reprieve from worsening energy shortages.
The LNG is intended to help Egypt generate more electricity
so it can avoid wider power outages as energy demand peaks in
the summer months.
However, one Egyptian official said that as part of a
broader agreement with Qatar, his country may have to pay
higher than hoped prices for subsequent natural gas
Egypt has faced a natural gas and diesel shortage since last
year, which has led to rising food costs, long lines at filling
stations and electricity blackouts.
The energy supply problems have deepened popular discontent
with Egypt's Islamist government and exacerbated broader
economic difficulties there.
The agreement came after Qatar's crown prince, Sheikh Tamim
bin Hamad al-Thani, gave directives "to provide all sorts of
support to the people of Egypt," said the country's oil
minister, Mohammed al-Sada.
The five free cargoes of Qatari LNG, which will be shipped
in large oceangoing tankers, come as "a gift to the Egyptian
people during the summer months, with the first of these
shipments beginning at the end of July," and continuing until
mid-September, the Egyptian petroleum ministry said on its
The five shipments, however, fall short of the supply Egypt
needs to fully solve its domestic energy shortage.
Each cargo would hold around 3.2 Bcf of natural gas, said
Tarek el-Barkatawy, the head of state owned Egyptian General
Egypt consumed 5 Bcf of natural gas a day in 2011, according
to data on the website of the United States Energy Information
"The gift we got today from Qatar basically gives us more
room and time to finalize swap deals with them and other
producers," Mr. Barkatawy said.
Dow Jones Newswires