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Algerian gas deal triggers criticism of Al-Sisi

Algeria’s Alshuruq has launched a sharp attack on the visit to the country by Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi. The focus of the newspaper’s ire is Algeria’s decision to sell gas to the Egyptian government.

Al-Sisi’s visit and the gas issue triggered criticism within Algerian political and media circles. In the meantime, the Egyptian press, in contrast to what it is used to doing, refrained from responding to what some observers considered to be “an offence against Egypt”. The gas, claimed the Algeria media reports, will not all be used by Egypt. “At least some will find its way to Israel.”

The Algerian authorities agreed to supply Egypt with shipments of liquefied natural gas at a price which has “astonished” commentators. “Despite the fact that a cubic metre of Algerian gas costs between 10 and 11 dollars per one million thermal units in the European markets,” they said, “the Egyptian authorities have preferred Algerian liquefied gas to the Qatari gas which was on offer to them at the reduced price of between 4 and 6 dollars per one million thermal units”.

According to economist Abd Al-Rahman Mabtul, “The reason behind Algeria selling its liquefied gas with symbolic dinars is the economic crisis Egypt is going through not to mention the fact that the authorities are seeking to bolster political relations with Egypt, especially with its new government.” Even so, he added, Egypt’s own objective in concluding this deal remains obscure.

A source at Algeria’s state-owned Sonatrak Company said that Algeria has agreed to export five shipments of liquefied natural gas to Egypt, each consisting of 145,000 cubic metres, before the end of the year. As it is going through its worst energy crisis in decades, Egypt is looking for alternative gas supplies because its Gulf allies are unable to match demand. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait have supplied Egypt with petroleum products estimated to be worth $6 billion since the coup last July.

Algerian writer Nasim Lakhal was scathing about Al-Sisi’s visit and said that the media is “lying” when it says that the visit to Algeria is due to the close relations between the people.

“The visit that brought the General (I would not call him the Egyptian president) has only one context and that is the framework of harmony and concord between the two regimes in both countries,” he said. Had it not been for this, and this alone, he claimed, Al-Sisi would never have been a guest in Algeria. “If the media were to explore Algerian public opinion regarding the visit by the leader of the bloody military coup in Egypt it would have found that the percentage of those who welcome the visit matches the percentage of those who voted in the recent presidential elections that were boycotted by the majority of the Egyptian people.”

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