Egypt Independent

Egypt considers reducing gas exports to offset local demand

Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy renewed his pledge to supply sufficient amounts of fuel-oil and natural gas to Egypt’s power stations at a meeting of the Supreme Council for Energy yesterday.

The Ministry of Petroleum intends to begin talks with countries which import Egyptian natural gas, including Israel, with the aim of temporarily decreasing Egypt’s exports until problems relating to power shortages are resolved, said a government official.

Chairman of the Egyptian General Authority for Investment Osama Saleh told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the agency has changed its strategy and philosophy in terms of marketing investment opportunities in Egypt. Saleh said investments currently promoted abroad do not include projects involving high power consumption such as with cement, fertilizer, and iron and steel manufacturing companies.

Saleh added that both the Petroleum Minister and the Electricity Minister have agreed on the importance of cooperation to overcome the current crisis and are focusing on how to solve the power crisis.

According to statements made by the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company, the electricity sector is receiving 2625 million cubic feet of natural gas daily to serve increased demands from power stations.

The priority now is for investment in infrastructure development projects and high employment creation projects such as textile and clothing industries, according to Saleh. He noted that investors from the Gulf countries are however more likely to be interested in high power consumption projects.

Saleh said he does not believe the power cuts and the government’s decision not to supply the private sector with electricity, should affect the investment environment. He explained that “industrial areas have not been experiencing power cuts, and in addition they have their own emergency supply of electricity.”

The Egyptian General Authority for Investment has not received inquiries from foreign investors about the power cuts and natural gas shortages, according to Saleh, but Asian and European companies take their vacation during the month of August.

Energy expert Ramadan Abou al-Ela meanwhile said he expects the Ministry of Petroleum to negotiate a decrease in natural gas exports with importing countries in order to meet Egypt’s needs.

Translated from the Arabic edition.