Egyptian experts considered that expanding the scope of Egypt’s energy exports, especially natural gas and electricity, would give Cairo great weight in the region, and enhance its regional and international standing.
Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon agreed during a meeting on Wednesday to deliver Egyptian gas to Lebanon via Jordan and Syria and to present an action plan and a timetable for implementing this in order to solve the energy crisis facing the Lebanese state.
In addition to Lebanon, Egypt’s exports of natural gas increased, especially after restarting the gas liquefaction and the export station at the Damietta Port in the North of Cairo, which had been suspended for eight years.
Since its restart and until the beginning of last July, Egypt has exported about 17 shipments of liquefied gas to several Asian markets such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, as well as to Spain and Belgium.
Egypt’s current production capacity of natural gas exceeds 7 billion cubic feet per day.
However, Egypt aspires to more gas exports, so it signed two agreements with Israel and Cyprus to import gas from them and then liquefy it at its stations in preparation for re-exporting it.
At the same time, Egypt is implementing a plan to expand the export of electricity to neighbouring countries through electrical interconnection lines.
In this regard, former Petroleum Minister Osama Kamal said, “delivery of natural gas to Lebanon has been a dream and has been planned for a long time, since the implementation of the Egyptian gas pipeline to Jordan, which was supposed to be completed to Syria and Lebanon.”
In a statement to Xinhua, Kamal added that this plan was halted due to “the tensions related to the Arab Spring that occurred in the region, in Syria and in Lebanon, which caused investments to stop.”
He stressed that the agreement to export Egyptian gas to Lebanon is very useful to achieve integration among the countries of the region and to achieve maximum benefits for these countries.
He added, “As for Cyprus, it has a wealth of gas, but it cannot benefit from it. The only solution is to connect Cypriot gas to the Egyptian network so that it enters the Egyptian liquefaction stations and from there to the network if Egypt needs to use it locally or export it.”
Moreover, “This solution will benefit Cyprus without investing in building infrastructure, and of course, Egypt will benefit from operating the stations.”
He believed that achieving this integration “is a good thing that would give political calm to the region and prevent many conflicts because all countries will be linked to reconciliation with other countries.”
He added that expanding the scope of Egyptian energy exports “gives a great deal of weight to Egypt in the region… and the increase in gas and electricity exports has become a source of weight for Egypt.”
He explained, “Egypt has taken great steps to transform into a regional energy centre. It is sufficient for Egypt to establish the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, which includes 10 active countries, and this forum is a great gain for the Egyptian administration.”
He stressed that “the transformation of Egypt into a regional centre will enhance its position in the region and the world and attract investments as well.”
In parallel, a memorandum of understanding will be signed during the current month for the electrical connection between Egypt and Cyprus, and another for linking the two countries with Greece, according to Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades during his visit to Cairo.
Dr Ayman Hamza, the spokesperson for the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity, said, “There is an interest from all parties to proceed with the procedures for electrical interconnection between Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, and thus Europe.”
Hamza told Xinhua, “Egypt exports electricity to several countries, as there is an electrical connection with Jordan, Sudan, and Libya.”
He continued, “There are studies currently underway to increase the capacities of the electrical interconnection lines between Egypt, Jordan and Libya, and some electrical tasks are being added to the linkage line between Egypt and Sudan to increase its absorptive capacity. This line is very important for Sudan, in addition to being a significant linking line between Egypt and the continent of Africa.”
He added, “There is a tripartite committee between Egypt, Jordan and Iraq to meet Iraq’s needs through an electrical connection line, and there is great interest in that, but there are parts in which procedures are completed to link Jordan and Iraq.”
He stressed, “Egypt has a reserve in electricity that exceeds 25% of production, and a huge development has taken place concerning the electricity transmission networks that are used to link us with countries, and this has made the Egyptian network one of the strong networks.”
He considered that exporting Egyptian electricity to neighbouring countries is “a very important matter that strengthens the ties between Egypt and these countries.”
In turn, Engineer Medhat Youssef, former head of the Petroleum Authority said, that the expansion of Egyptian energy exports is a very successful step on the part of the Egyptian state, especially about the delivery of natural gas to Lebanon through the Arab Gas Pipeline.
Youssef told Xinhua, “Lebanon has big problems in providing electricity and gas in a way that affects the economic and social life there, while Egyptian gas is available, and this is a quick solution for Lebanon.”
He added, “At the same time, delivering Cypriot gas to Egypt for liquefaction for re-export or consumption in Egypt will have a great economic return for Cyprus and Egypt.”
He pointed out that Egypt’s steps in the field of gas and electricity exports confirm its transformation into a regional energy centre, and it is explicit that Egypt is the only pivotal country in the Eastern Mediterranean capable of trading gas for the Eastern Mediterranean countries, which enhances Egypt’s strength in the region.