Egypt hopes to reach gas market balance in 2018, to export by 2020

Wednesday 15-02-2017 03:02 PM

An oil field- REUTERS (archive)

By Reuters

CAIRO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Egypt hopes its gas market will be balanced in 2018 and expects to begin exporting by 2020, EGAS chief Mohamed Al-Masry said on Wednesday at an oil conference in Cairo.

Al-Masry also said 2018 would be the last year Egypt's government imported gas for the domestic market. The private sector will import gas to supply manufacturers via new regulations that allow private importing.

"The imports for the government will end at the end of 2018 and the private sector will start from that time or maybe earlier," Al Masry told Reuters on the sidelines.

"For exports, in 2019 we'll start to export from our LNG plants. We have three plants, two in Idku and one in Damietta. It depends on what we produce at the time but we have confirmed reserves from three or four fields that we will start to export from 2019," he said.

Egypt is in the process of passing a law that would allow the private sector to import gas. It has yet to be passed by parliament.

Once a net gas exporter, Egypt has turned into a major importer in recent years as growing domestic demand outstripped production, but the discovery of the 850 billion-cubic metre Zohr field in 2015 is expected to change that.

"Zohr will start first phase end of this year.. This will help close some of the gap between supply and demand and decrease importing of LNG," he said.

The field is expected to come into production by the end of the year and will save Egypt billions of dollars in hard currency that would otherwise be spent on imports.

Egypt's total gas production is currently 4.45 billion cubic feet per day. It aims to increase it to 5.35 billion cubic feet in 2017/18 and in 2018-19 to around 5.9 billion cubic feet per day.

Al-Masry also said BP's North Alexandria field was ahead of schedule by six months. It will start producing gas in April.

(Reporting by Eric Knecht; editing by Susan Thomas; writing by Asma Alsharif; editing by Susan Thomas)

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