An Egyptian delegation arrived in Doha yesterday to secure a natural gas deal, as Egypt continues to suffer from fuel bottlenecks leading to frequent power cuts.
Assistant to President Mohamed Morsi on Foreign Relations and International Cooperation Essam Al-Haddad and Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Sherif Hadarra led the trip, which follows news that Qatar’s $3bn gas swap deal with Egypt had been postponed to the end of May. Hadarra said last week this was due to “unresolved legal details”.
In April, Qatar agreed to provide Egypt with natural gas and an additional $3bn in the form of either Egyptian treasury bonds or deposits in the country’s central bank. The agreement was arranged to import gas through Egypt’s government holding company, EGAS.
“We had hoped to implement the energy exchange program on 18 May, but were forced to postpone the official signing of the agreement due to persisting unresolved legal matters,” the newly appointed petroleum minister said.
“We are cooperating with our partners at Qatar Gas, who are operating at the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations [ADCO] gas liquefaction plant, to resolve these legal details as fast as possible” he added.
Egypt received the first shipment of Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the end of May under the deal, which includes foreign companies extracting gas locally.
About 56% of local natural gas consumption in Egypt goes to the electricity sector, which increases significantly in the summer season as gas is diverted from other sectors to meet rising demand for electricity.
The government has already announced power cuts and energy-saving measures, such as closing one of Cairo airport’s runways for four hours in the summer.
Qatar’s aid to Egypt has been an issue at recent demonstrations, where protesters have adamantly declared that Egypt has no need for assistance from Qatar or a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Since President Mohamed Morsi was elected last June the Gulf state has deposited $5bn in Egypt, including a $1bn grant.