A number of local private companies are currently seeking the Egyptian authorities' approvals to import gas from Israeli fields, the Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek El-Molla, announced yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference held in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, El-Molla said that "negotiations are taking place between the ministry and local private companies over importing gas from Israel."
The move, El-Molla added, is part of Egypt's plan to become a regional gas trading centre.
In February, Israel's Delek Group signed a $15billion agreement to supply Israeli gas to Egypt's Dolphin Energy Limited for 10 years. The agreement was endorsed by the ministry under the pretext that it is "part of the solutions to reach an agreement on arbitration issues between oil and gas companies."
Egypt has stalled gas exports to Israel following several pipelines' bombings in the country's Sinai Peninsula after the January 2011 revolution. Israel had threatened to resort to international arbitration but has not yet made any move
In a similar context, Molla pointed out that the domestic natural gas production ranges between 5.7 to 5.750 billion cubic feet per day, up from 5.5 billion in February.
The Increase in gas production, the minister explained, came following the country's four major new gas production projects coming online, adding that the Italy's Eni-discovered "Zohr" field in the Mediterranean coast is expected to produce some 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day.
Molla noted to other discussions which took place between him and Cyprus Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, on transferring gas to Egypt via a maritime pipeline pouring into the Egyptian National Gas Grid or re-exporting it.
"The pipeline connecting Cyprus' Aphrodite gas field to Egypt's liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities will cost between $800 million and $1 billion," Molla said.
Last month, Molla said that Egypt is targeting about $10 billion in foreign investment in the oil and gas sector in the 2018/19 fiscal year that begins in July.
Egypt has rapidly increased its production of natural gas and hopes to become a hub for exporting to Europe after making a series of big discoveries in recent years. It hopes to halt gas imports by 2019 and achieve self-sufficiency.