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.
is intended to help Egypt generate more electricity so it can
avoid wider power outages as energy demand peaks in the summer
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
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 website.
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 Petroleum.
Egypt consumed 5 Bcf of natural
gas a day in 2011, according to data on the website of the
United States Energy Information Administration.
"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