While vying for significant economic reforms, Egypt set a target to fulfill sustainable development goals (SDGs). For both ends, the country launched in 2016 its long-term strategic plan, “Egypt Vision 2030”, which aims to meet SDGs goals in all fields, including the energy sector. Energy is the second pillar of the vision that aims to provide energy needs while maximizing the efficiency of the various traditional and renewable energy resources.
With the latest natural gas discoveries, Egypt became able not only to provide citizens with an economically affordable energy source, but also a source with the least impact on the environment. Hence, natural gas stands as the perfect fuel for Egypt Vision 2030.
Why Natural Gas?
Several countries, including Egypt, focused on natural gas as a main source of energy in their SDGs plans for several reasons. One of the most convincing of these reasons is being one of the cheapest resources. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “in the equivalent amount of energy (per 1 MW), natural gas capital intensity is $1,023, whereas, for example, solar power capital intensity is $3,873”, as stated in an article entitled “The Role of Natural Gas in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals”.
At the same time, the emissions released from natural gas while generating electricity, is between 45% to 55% lower than coal, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The mentioned article clarified that natural gas doesn’t contain solid contaminants or other harmful components. According to experts, another good thing about natural gas is the ability to install its infrastructure in a shorter time than coal or nuclear plants so it is saving time and is cost-effective.
When it comes to Egypt, the country witnessed several major natural gas discoveries during the past few years. These discoveries including Zohr giant field helped Egypt achieve unprecedented production rates of natural gas reaching more than 7 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) until June 2021. These high rates of production pushed Egypt to be the second-largest country producing natural gas in Africa and the fifth in the Middle East during 2020 after producing 58.5 billion cubic meters (bcm). Also, these discoveries helped Egypt achieve self-sufficiency of natural gas and transform from natural gas importer to exporter.
Moreover, the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek El Molla, highlighted that Egypt along with the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) members launched the initiative of removing carbon from natural gas and using liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel.
Capitalizing on the new high production rates, Egypt launched several initiatives to expand the utilization of natural gas as an energy source. In 2020, the state launched the initiative of converting vehicles to run on natural gas as fuel. In cooperation with the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (MSMEDA), some facilitations were put in place to encourage citizens to convert their cars including installing the costs of conversion and removing any financial burdens on car owners.
The Minister has announced recently that the number of converted vehicles reached 430,000. Moreover, the government urged the expansion of the service centers and natural gas supply stations during the past period to cover most of the republic’s regions. El Molla stated that the number of the stations recorded was more than 600 by March 2022.
Regarding households, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi kicked off another initiative to install the costs of connections and without a down payment to help poor people benefit from natural gas. The Minister noted in remarks to media that the Ministry is actively working on connecting natural gas to cover most areas, especially the new cities as well as the remote ones. He stated that 13 million housing units are already connected and the Ministry is working on delivering natural gas to 1.2 million households annually.
Moreover, in January 2021, Egypt launched the Hayah Karema initiative “Decent Live” to link natural gas to the poor villages and establish a network there targeting to install the needed infrastructure for 1,403 villages with the first phase including 59 have been already connected to the natural gas grid.
When it comes to the industrial sector, the Ministry is trying to maximize the number of industrial facilities benefitting from natural gas. According to the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), natural gas was provided for 95 factories and 5,200 commercial establishments including 3,200 subsidized municipal bakeries during the fiscal year (FY) 2020/21.
Depending on it as one of the main supporters for its sustainable development strategy, Egypt is still working on expanding the utilization of natural gas. The Ministry announced in the achievement report between 2014 to 2021, its target to add 400,000 converted cars during the coming three years.
Also, the government aims to increase the natural gas supply stations to 1,000 across the republic. So, by such great interest in capitalizing on natural gas, Egypt is doing well to achieve its vision to become an important regional energy hub.