Egypt signed six oil and natural gas exploration agreements with Egyptian and international companies, the Ministry of Petroleum said.

The contracts are valued at $2.3 billion, said Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy at the signing ceremony.

“Of the total, five are extensions and amendments to already existing deals and one is a completely new deal,” a ministry official told Reuters.

Adriano Mongini, chairman of Italian petroleum company ENI, British Petroleum (BP) chairman Hisham Mekawi, and Atef Abdel Sadek, chairman of Egyptian petroleum company Tharwa, were also present at the ceremony.

The Egyptian General Petroleum Company (EGPC), BP and ENI subsidiary IEOC were jointly granted a $1.1 billion Ras El-Bar concession, a $900 million concession in El-Temsah, and a $200 million concession at Ghara in the Gulf of Suez.

EGPC and BP were also granted a $60 million concession in South Balaeem, Gulf of Suez.

A concession at Theka in North Sinai worth $22.5 million was awarded to the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) along with Tharwa Petroleum and IEOC.

The final concession, a 43 square kilometer area in the Eastern Desert worth $17.5 million, was granted to Ganoub El-Wadi Holding Petroleum Company (GANOPE) and Tharwa Petroleum.

Speaking at the ceremony, Fahmy emphasized the oil sector’s commitment to attracting foreign investment in research, exploration and development of new wells in order to expand Egypt’s reserves to meet the needs of the local market and increase petroleum exports into the future.

Fahmy has pursued an aggressive strategy of growth in the petroleum sector, particularly in the growing natural gas sub-sector.

According to an emailed statement by CI Capital analyst Fadwa Hossam, petroleum discoveries made during fiscal year 2007/2008 constituted a year on year increase of 38.5 percent, in line with an 86.6 percent increase year on year in sector investment. 

“The Ministry of Petroleum has been granting several concessions for exploration and drilling activities in order to increase crude oil and natural gas production,” Hossam wrote. 

Egypt’s oil and gas sector is a major source of foreign direct investment, and has remained resilient in the face of the global economic crisis.

The sector brought in 46 percent of total foreign direct investment in 2007/2008 and accounts for 70 percent of FDI inflows since the beginning of 2009.

“The success of the sector in attracting foreign investment despite the global financial crisis shows the confidence and credibility of the oil sector and its ability to deal with international companies in the framework of strategies and through clear policies based on mutual cooperation,” said Fahmy.

On Sunday, privately-held Kuwait Energy Co said it found a new oilfield in Egypt.

Oil flowed from the Al Zahraa oilfield at the rate of 2,615 barrels per day (bpd). Kuwait Energy holds a 49.5 percent stake in the oilfield, it said in the statement.

The discovery was in the East Ras Qattara block, and was the company’s fourth since it started exploring in Egypt in 2006.

(Daily News Egypt)