Point-blank: Gas politics

Mohamed Salmawy
Friday 1 Jul 2022

I received a phone call from Egypt’s Ambassador to Belgium Badr Abdel-Atti, following the publication of an article of mine about a gas export deal between Egypt and the EU. At the time, the agreement had not been made public.

 

 It was subsequently signed during the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s recent visit to Egypt. The ambassador confirmed the information I had conveyed about the agreement which, as I had written, would bring Egypt into the club of gas-exporting nations. Egypt had once been a gas importer until it achieved self-sufficiency in 2018.

Describing the agreement as a “landmark,” Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek Al-Molla said that it would clear the way for Egypt to export gas extracted from the recently discovered reserves in our territorial waters in the Mediterranean to other European countries suffering from the halt in exports of Russian gas. He added that the agreement was effectively an official recognition that Egypt had become an international hub for transportation and trade in gas. Egypt already has two gas liquefaction plants. After processing, the liquified natural gas (LNG) will be exported to Europe aboard LNG carriers or through trans-Mediterranean pipelines. The plants, which are located in the Beheira and Damietta governorates, each have a capacity to produce around two billion cubic feet of LNG a day, or 12 million tons per year.  

This will make Egypt the 13th largest LNG exporter in the world, the fifth largest in the region and second largest in Africa after Algeria. With this accomplishment, Egypt will have acquired a new source of hard currency revenues that is both stable and growing in value given the rising prices of energy against the backdrop of the political upheavals from the Russian-Ukrainian war. In addition to the huge economic benefits it will bring, the agreement will have important political ramifications for the future of the Middle East and for strategic cooperation in energy security between the Mediterranean North and South. It will also ensure a more influential role for Egypt in its regional environment, strengthening its position vis a vis rival powers such as Turkey.

A version of this article appears in print in the 30 June, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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