By OLA GALAL
Egypt, the Arab worlds most populous nation, is poised
to get its first cargo of imported liquefied natural gas
(LNG) before summer to help meet rising demand as local
production slumps, according to Sherif Ismail, the nation's
State-run Egyptian Natural Gas
Holding Co. is in the
final stage of reviewing three offers for rental
of a regasification unit that would permit LNG imports, he
said this week in an interview in Cairo. The government aims
to secure a reasonable number of cargoes this
year, Ismail said, without giving further details.
We are also looking at scheduling LNG
imports for 2015 and 2016 for
a period between three and five years because we believe that
Egypt has big proven and potential natural-gas
reserves, the minister said. So we will be only
needing that imported gas until we bridge the gap between
production and consumption.
Local energy exploration
and production slowed
in the three years since an uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak
from the presidency. Debts to foreign oil companies increased
to $4.8 billion by the end of 2013, according to Ismail.
Egypt is producing 5.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas
daily, the minister
said. That compares with 6.4 billion cubic feet in 2010.
Output will expand to 5.8 billion cubic feet/day with
additions from new and existing fields, he said.
We are focusing on all the fields and wells that we
could put on stream this year and expedite production from
others that are already producing, Ismail said.
The government is considering importing Iraqi natural gas
through a pipeline
used by Egypt to deliver the fuel to Jordan, he said.
Its also in talks with Reading, England-based BG Group
over gas supplies after the company declared force majeure on
its Egyptian LNG
exports, according to the
Force majeure is a legal clause freeing companies from
contract terms because of circumstances beyond their control.
BG, which gets about 18% of its production from Egypt, made
the declaration on Jan. 27 after gas was diverted to the
domestic market from export terminals.
Costs for fuel subsidies are set to increase to 140 billion
Egyptian pounds ($20 billion) in the fiscal year through June
from 128 billion pounds in the prior period, Ismail said.
Egypt will receive $2 billion from the United Arab Emirates
in oil-product aid in the three months to March, the minister
Egypt has yet to announce the winner of a tender to import LNG
for the power industry that
closed on March 24, 2013. The delay stems from elevated
prices that resulted from a supply shortage on the global
market, Ismail said.