Egypt's Petroleum Minister Tareq al-Molla announced on Monday an agreement with Iraq to import Basra crude oil for refining in Egypt, as part of a broader plan to increase bilateral petroleum-industry cooperation.
“The agreement on refining Basra crude oil comes within the terms of a previously-signed memorandum of understanding,” Molla told the state-run news agency MENA on Monday.
Last week, Molla indicated that Egypt's oil operations with Saudi Aramco have not been canceled, but will continue as planned.
He added that Egypt has its own oil-refining capabilities and can refine crude oil from Basra, exporting the products back to Iraq. He said that Egypt is seeking to buy crude oil, which means that the two nations can integrate their operations.
Such an arrangement would provide jobs for Egyptians and fulfill Iraq's needs, instead of purchasing from international market.
“This marks a start for cooperation with Iraq through striking agreements and then expanding into wider fields of cooperation,” he added.
Molla highlighted the need to establish joint Egyptian-Iraqi companies that can work continuously, rather than just at times of particular need.
Saudi Aramco previously announced that supplies of refined oil products to Egypt would be delayed in October.
Some had linked the delays to tensions between Egypt and Saudi Arabia over the conduct of the Syrian civil war, after Egypt supported a Russian ceasefire resolution at the UN Security Council.
While Egyptian officials have rejected any link between such diplomatic tensions and the alleged Saudi Aramco delays, Molla appears keen to assert that Egypt is able to meet its domestic needs by other means if necessary.
Government sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm last week that Egypt could meet its domestic needs by resorting to other markets if Saudi Aramco decided to halt supplies of oil products.
Edited translation from Anadolu Agency