Cyprus to Egypt gas pipeline deal to be signed: Petroleum Minister

Minister of Petroleum Tarek al-Mulla declared that before mid-2018, there will be a signing of an agreement with the European Union (EU) to build a Cyprus-to-Egypt gas pipeline, saying that the EU will be the main beneficiary of the energy produced.

During his participation in the ‘Petroleum Week’ conference in London, the minister announced that a preliminary agreement with Cyprus’s government has been signed to have a pipeline running from Cyprus to Egypt, and that further negotiations are underway between governments. Moreover, Egypt and Greece will be working closely in the fields of petroleum and gas through several agreements.

He also emphasized the close cooperation with Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq in the same field, announcing that Egypt has entered an agreement with Jordan and Iraq to transport crude oil and gas from Iraq, through Jordan, to Egypt.

Mulla expressed the the importance of energy as an opportunity to create fruitful international cooperation, political alliances, and new markets. He said that transforming Egypt into a hub for trading and moving gas and petroleum will be an important step for all actors involved, including Europe, which is interested in securing its share of energy after 2020, as the supply-demand gap is expected to increase.

The minister also says that there is currently a lot of work being undertaken to revolutionize Egypt’s petroleum sector to make it globally competitive. Mulla explained that some of the most important features of this work is aiming to make Egypt a hub in the petroleum and gas market, to ensure it is a strategic player in energy: either through producing energy or importing it to fulfil Egypt’s needs, before converting and later exporting it.

Mulla justified Egypt’s suitableness to serve as an energy hub by referring to different factors including Egypt’s strategic geographical location as the operator for the Suez Canal. He also highlighted the country’s well-established infrastructure for transporting, storing, and selling crude oil, petroleum products, and gas. This infrastructure, he says, has been built from Egypt’s position as a center for transporting goods to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Another strong suit that Egypt can brag about in the field of oil and energy is that it is the second largest local market for petroleum in Africa, in addition to its competitive advantage of easy storage and transportation of petroleum and petrochemicals.

According to Mulla, there are currently also several infrastructural projects in progress, while others are under study before being carried out in both the Mediterranean and Ain Sokhna in the Red Sea. Elsewhere, coastal harbors, renovated pipes, and two natural gas factories in Damietta and Edku serve as factors which can contribute to achieving Egypt’s endeavors to become a leading player in international energy and crude oil markets.

Egypt and Cyprus have strong ties in the field of energy which began in 2009 during ministerial-level meetings, where the countries discussed methods to strengthen relations. Since then, there has been talk of Cyprus increasing its imports of natural gas, Egypt using Cyprus as a bridge for exports to Europe, and prospects of Egyptian engineers training their Cypriot counterparts with techniques for extracting oil and natural gas.

Several official visits have recently taken place between the two countries, in addition to three tripartite summits in 2014, 2015, and 2017, where Cyprus, Egypt, and Greece discussed expanding their ties in several fields, namely energy.

In the most recent tripartite meeting in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, the three countries tackled the subject of the development of hydrocarbon reserves in Eastern Mediterranean and discussed mutually beneficial energy projects.

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