Egypt is considering the import of natural gas from Iraq through the pipeline that the country currently uses to export its own natural gas to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, known as the Arab pipeline, the Daily News Egypt reported.

The Minister of Petroleum, Eng. Sameh Fahmy has reportedly told the Energy Committee of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) that importing gas from Iraq now would take advantage of the current global price drop, and that it would be used in supplying the energy needs of heavy industries such as steel, cement and fertilizer factories.

Fahmy’s comments were met with criticism from groups opposed to the export of Egyptian gas at low prices. These groups have long argued that exporting the gas equaled a shortfall in covering the demand of the local market and Fahmy’s statements will only confirm their view.

A campaign against the export of Egyptian gas responded to Fahmy’s comments in an announcement released to the press, “Has the minister finally awakened to the tragedy of the wasting of Egypt’s petroleum resources after his ministry and the treasury failed to plug the dangerous holes in their sinking ship?”

The campaign criticized Fahmy for not listening to the many experts who had previously stated that the rate of exportation of Egyptian gas would lead to a situation where internal demand would not be met.

“The petroleum ministry exports gas at very low prices when it should have been used domestically to create electricity but instead imports petroleum at very high prices, Egypt is no longer an exporter of oil and gas as you claim and the exportation of our gas was a catastrophic decision.” the statement added.

A market analyst told Daily News Egypt “It would be a good idea to import the gas cheaply from Iraq and lock in at that price for the future if Egypt has the view that gas prices will go up in the long term.”

Al Masry Al Youm newspaper reported that Fahmy proposed using the refinery in the Damietta free zone to process the imported gas from abroad, to take advantage of the refinery’s potentials.