A way around Aramco? Egypt petrol minister denies visiting Iran to strike a new deal

Published November 7th, 2016 - 03:00 GMT
Egypt's Ministry of Petroleum has no information about the suspension of supplies during October. (File photo)
Egypt's Ministry of Petroleum has no information about the suspension of supplies during October. (File photo)

Egypt’s Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla denied on Monday reports about visiting Iran to negotiate a new oil deal after Saudi state-owned Aramco suspended its supply to Egypt.

Rumors about negotiations between Egypt and Iran emerged after Aramco has suspended its oil products shipments to Egypt “until further notice". However, Molla, who is attending an energy conference in Abu Dhabi, denied visiting Tehran.

"No Iran visit. I am attending the conference," Molla told Reuters.

Aramco had suspended its shipments to Egypt last month, but Egyptian officials have confirmed that the five-year deal is still in effect.

However Hamdy Abdel-Aziz, spokesperson for Minister of Petroleum, told Aswat Masriya on Monday that Aramco informed Egypt in September that it would halt the shipments “until further notice”.

“There have been no developments since, so the shipments will therefore continue to be suspended,” Abdel-Aziz said.

Saudi Arabia had agreed to provide Egypt with 700,000 tonnes of refined oil products per month for five years in April, during a visit by King Salman that saw Egypt and Saudi Arabia sign a maritime borders agreement, stipulating that the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir fall within Saudi Arabia's territorial waters.

The halt came amid escalating tensions between Egypt and Saudi Arabia after the former voted in favour of a Russian-backed draft resolution in the UN Security Council on Syria, which was opposed by Saudi Arabia.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al- Sisi however denied shortly after that the suspension of Saudi oil shipments is linked to Egypt’s vote on the Russian resolution.

Rumors about Egypt’s negotiations with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main rival in the region, raise questions over the future of relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Relations between Egypt and Iran have been strained for decades, as Egypt severed its diplomatic relations with Tehran following the country's Islamic revolution in 1979.

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