Govt official blames spate of power cuts on gas sales to Israel

Independent local media on Wednesday quoted an unnamed government official who blamed Egyptian sales of natural gas to Israel for the recent spate of power cuts that has plagued the country.

The official pointed out that the reduction of gas supplies to Egyptian power plants had begun in 2004–shortly after Egypt began exporting gas to Israel.

A number of Egyptian cities and villages have been struck by outages, and domestic electricity demand has increased due to air conditioner and refrigeration use amid summer temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius. Ageing national infrastructure, meanwhile, has struggled to keep up with the growth of the country's economy and population.

Sources at the Electricity Ministry told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the amounts of natural gas required to operate power stations, supplied by the Petroleum Ministry, have been insufficient. They added that the ministry was looking for new ways to reduce the load on the national electricity grid.

President Hosni Mubarak met with Electricity Minister Hassan Younis and Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy on Wednesday to discuss ways of resolving problems between the two ministries that have reportedly contributed to the power outages.

In 2004, the Petroleum Ministry began exporting gas at prices considerably less than the cost of the imported mazut fuel used for fueling power stations.

According to official statistics, the Finance Ministry had to allocate LE6.3 billion for the Electricity Ministry's purchase of fuel to offset the gas shortfall. The Irrigation Ministry, meanwhile, had to raise water levels behind the Aswan High Dam to 250 million cubic meters in order to boost the electro-hydraulic power generated by the dam's turbines.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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