As Egypt’s oil and gas sector embarks in a new era of technical and strategic developments, Cairo launched the second edition of the Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS 2018) under the High Patronage of His Excellency Abdel Fattah El Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and support of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources. The three-day event, held between February 12th and 14th at the Egypt International Exhibition Center, provided a promising platform for novel opportunities and innovative solutions in the Egyptian oil and natural gas industry.

EGYPS 2018 brought more than 1,000 conference delegates and 150 industry expert speakers together, in order to provide valuable insights through Technical, Strategic, Women in Energy, and Security & HSE in Energy conferences. The 20,000-gross-square-kilometer halls accommodated more than 400 national and international exhibiting companies, as well as 12 country pavilions, providing a prominent opportunity of business network to over 15,000 attendees.

New Initiatives

EGYPS’ Official Opening Ceremony was attended by H.E. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi; Egypt’s Prime Minister, H.E. Sherif Ismail; Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, H.E. Tarek El Molla; the Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), H.E. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, and a number of ministers, deputies, and executive leaders.

During the opening, El Molla delivered a speech in which he announced five new initiatives to increase the efficiency of performance in oil and gas activities and attract investments in 2018. The first initiative consists of cooperating with international companies engaged in marketing petroleum products, aiming to improve the quality of fuel and offering a new gasoline product to cope with modern developments. The second initiative announced was an agreement to conduct seismic surveys in the Gulf of Suez, which still has great exploration and production (E&P) potential to attract foreigner investment and increase the country’s reserves.

The third initiative is the signing of a memorandum of understanding with a consortium of leading international companies to establish the Egyptian Gateway for Exploration and Production, a geological information center to promote research in areas offered by the ministry. El Molla pointed out that the fourth initiative is related to improving the E&P efficiency of joint ventures and international companies operating in Egypt, aiming at lowering operations costs. Meanwhile, the fifth initiative consists of launching an electronic portal to enhance communication between workers, serving as a reliable source of information, allowing the exchange of experiences and ideas, and enriching the spirit of teamwork within the sector.

In this line, EGYPS 2018 was the scenario of the signing of important new agreements, including an agreement of cooperation between the Ministry of Petroleum and Baker Hughes Global Company to launch the Egyptian Portal project for online marketing of exploration and production (E&P) concession areas. The agreement secures the digital infrastructure and electronic applications suitable for the project, as well as the preparation of a digital investment map for concession areas in Egypt, which will enable E&P marketing and attract international oil companies’ (IOCs) investments.

El Molla further witnessed the agreement signing for the development of Badr Petroleum Company (Bapetco), in addition to two agreements between the ministry and Schlumberger. The first agreement with Schlumberger includes the conduction of a regional seismic survey in the Gulf of Suez area, while the second includes a project for launching an Egyptian website to market the petroleum areas and exploration through establishing a database that will contain the exploration and production (E&P) activities. The website aims to collect, process, update, and monitor all data, using latest technologies. It is further expected to prepare data packs to announce concessions, and process the new seismic data while enhancing the old ones to determine the promising geological combinations.

Boosting Technical Performance

With technical development as a pillar for the oil and gas industry’s success, EGYPS Technical Conference, set across the three days of the event, offered more than 30 sessions within 11 categories, gathering over 110 speakers from 45 countries. The categories included operational excellence, maintenance, and HSE; drilling and completions; E&P geoscience; oil and gas unconventional field developments; project management, engineering technology and implementation; gas processing technology and operations; offshore technology and operations; marketing and distribution of refined products; power generation technology and operations; downstream operations; and connected performance technology and services.

According to Abded Ezz El Regal, Head of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), the technical conference was a good chance “to exchange successful stories and learn from the flaws committed by others.” The exchange of ideas and of what each operator has reached would definitely increase E&P opportunities, as he further noted.

During the conference, British Ambassador to Egypt, John Casson, stated his belief that it is important for Egypt to consider gas processing. “Part of moving from short-term stability to long-term success is extracting real value from Egypt. The oil and gas sector is not just about exports and dollars, it should be about building an industrial base for Egypt,” he stated.

Within the sessions, speakers further reviewed efficiency and improvements in oil and gas. “What we need in the oil and gas sector is more empowerment for the Egyptian employees to take on leading roles when it comes to partnerships with international companies”, Rami Nabil, Geologist at Khalda for Petroleum, noted. “We also need more educational courses and hands-on experience trainings to benefit us and expand our knowledge”, he added.

With the petrochemical industry as an important income resource in the downstream sector, presentations further tackled ways of integrating renewable resources in petrochemicals, as well as various aspects of diversifying the downstream value chain. EGYPS Technical Conference equally brought important insights on connected performance technology, injection redistribution optimization using rapid data driven physics modelling, and data centric execution, among other topics.

“The technical presentations will definitely have an impact. When companies operating in Egypt see how other companies work, they have some sort of knowledge sharing. When each company learns from the other, this enhances the opportunities for everyone to do better, and this eventually reflects on the companies and the country itself,” Haitham M. Al-Attar, Exploration Geophysicist and Technical Lead at BP North Africa, Egypt, affirmed.

Setting New Oil & Gas Strategies

EGYPS 2018 further offered its attendees two days of high-level Strategic Conference, enabling the petroleum industry’s global business leaders to actively discuss the successful development and growth of the industry, promote strategic partnerships, investment opportunities and enhance industry collaboration in the region and globally.

H.E. Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez, Minister of Petroleum of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, stated that “events like EGYPS represent for everybody in the world the importance of the oil and gas market for producers, consuming countries, and investors. The balance between every actor is very important. There are a lot of challenges ahead and there are opportunities that we can achieve in order to grow and provide development for our people.”

From his side, H.E. Mustapha Guitouni, Minister of Energy of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, affirmed on Fernandez’s words and stressed on the importance of EGYPS. “It is an exceptional event,” he noted. As for South Africa, H.E. David Mahlobo, Minister of Energy, mentioned that “from a South African point of view, energy is important for economic growth. South Africa is one of the net oil and gas importing countries; therefore, our participation here [EGYPS 2018] helps us to have a discussion and collaborate with other partners.”

Discussing Egypt’s economic reform and its implications on the oil and gas industry, Egypt’s Petroleum Minister, Tarek El Molla, stated, “Since 2013, we were really looking after real reform and sustainable energy positioning […..] Subsidy reform is a challenge for most of the developing countries. I think we have been suffering a lot from long-term subsidy strategy.” El Molla further highlighted that the reform that started in 2016 is a long-term decision, as the country is aiming to attract extra investments in renewable energy in order to diversify its energy mix. “Long-term decisions and policies are one of the priorities of our government,” he added.

From his side, Fernandez mentioned that Venezuela is currently developing joint ventures (JVs) with more than 20 oil and gas companies. “We are planning to provide stability for investors.” Meanwhile, Guitouni stressed on the importance of creating a long-term balance in the market. “It is a matter of balance between demand and supply,” as he stated.

Mohamed Moanes, First Undersecretary for Gas Affairs at the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, outlined the progress made by Egypt over the last few years, citing the increase of production measuring 4.6 billion cubic feet of gas since the start of 2017. “This is the best time to invest in Egypt. There is no doubt that Zohr’s production will save [the sector] around $60 million a month. In addition, we expect this amount of saving to increase up to $2-3 billion a year after completing all the phases of this project,” he added.

Maurizio Coratella, CEO of Edison International Spa, affirmed that “Egypt has all the ingredients to play the role of hub in the region. It has infrastructure, storage, refineries, fertilizer companies, and its geographical position; these provide the backbone to materialize the project.”

Building on Coratella’s comment, William Coates, CEO of ONE LNG, stated that “Egypt succeeded in attracting leading [oil] companies’ attention due to its high potential to be a regional oil and gas trade  hub, in addition to the recent discoveries that is expected to attract foreign investments.”

On the importance and success of partnerships in the industry for the growth of both companies and nations, Maria Moraeus Hanssen, CEO of DEA, affirmed that “those who handle partnerships best can be the most successful.” Ali Al Jarwan, CEO of Dragon Oil, echoed Hanssen’s sentiments, noting, “You must keep relations with government, understanding what the government wants exactly.” Al Jarwan added that “the efficiency of human resources must be maintained. As long as there are skilled and efficient workers and employees, the work is at a steady pace.”

Demetris Fessas, Executive Director of the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company, stated that “regional cooperation is related to prices in the market,” highlighting the importance of paying attention to local needs when considering fruitful partnerships.

Highlighting the importance of human capital in the oil and gas industry, Hatem Soliman, Senior Advisor to the CEO at Schlumberger, mentioned that investors are more confident about Egypt’s oil and gas sector than before.

Tackling the ministry’s Modernization Program, Osama Mobarez, Undersecretary for Minister’s Technical Office, Egypt’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, stated that the project has “taken into account the financial independency [of the sector], as we are aiming to turn it from a governmental entity into a commercial entity.”

Ashish Khanna, in charge of the Suitable Development Program at the World Bank, noted that “the success of this program is mainly depending on empowering employees, especially in the middle management level, in addition to restructuring the sector in a transparent and credible processes to gain the confidence of the employees and solve any problems that might occur, using faster and more flexible solutions.”

Security & HSE

With security and HSE strategies playing an increasingly integral role in the petroleum industry’s operations, EGYPS’ inaugural one-day Security & HSE Conference addressed the key and growing issues around security, health, safety, and environment in the sector. Through the conference, attendees gained valuable insights on cyber and infrastructure security, emergency response planning, system vulnerabilities, and sustainable production across the value chain.

“The safety and health of our employees, contractors, assets, and the environment are our number one business value across the oil and gas sector. We are proactively striving to integrate workplace safety fully into our daily business operations, with management and all employees taking a hands-on approach to safety and security, demonstrating leadership and direction to ensure the safest possible working conditions. Our ultimate goal is zero accidents,” El Molla stated.

Considering the high sensitivity of oil and gas data, Sherif Hashem, Vice President, Cybersecurity at the National Telecom Regulatory Authority Egypt and Chairman, Executive Bureau at the Egyptian Supreme Cybersecurity Council, announced that the “International Communication Union (ITU) came up with a model of cyber security index that include regulatory and legal aspects, organizational aspects, capacity building , international collaboration and human resources development.” According to him, these aspects and pillars are used by ITU to measure the readiness of a country. “In Egypt we are very proud to get a high rank in terms of cyber security readiness.  We rank 14th among 103 countries, which is very impressive,” he highlighted.

Dina Arafa, Regional IT Manager at BP North Africa, commented that “safety comes as a behavior to oil and gas. Anyone who is working in the oil and gas sector knows that by heart.” Accordingly, “the control has shifted from the IT hands to everyone who holds a device that connects to the network.”

Empowering Women in Energy

Building on the success of the Women in Energy Conference of the first edition of EGYPS, 2018’s edition offered a one-day forum to continually enable over 200 oil and gas professionals to network, share their knowledge and discuss achievements on female participation, as well as encourage inclusion and diversity across all sectors of the energy industry.

Commenting on steps and challenges to increase the percentage of women working in the oil and gas sector, Iman Hill, Technical Director, General Manager UAE, President Egypt at Dana Gas and former Chair at Shell Egypt, stated, “we need to encourage women to think that they can compete just as well, if not better, in all of these kinds of really technical and science-based disciplines, which is what the core of oil and gas industry is.”

“The planet is graduating more women from universities. We have a human obligation to make sure that the totality of the world population finds some place for themselves in the global economy,” Natalia G. Shehadeh, Vice President and Chief Assurance Officer at Weatherford International PLC, commented.

During the conference, Minister Tarek El Molla, along with the Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Wally, witnessed the inaugural Women in Energy Awards, a step forward the recognition of both individual leadership and high performance, plus corporate response to inclusion and diversity within the oil and gas industry.

Nihad Shelbaya, Public and Government Affairs Manager at ExxonMobil Egypt, was the winner of the Women in Leadership Award. Additionally, Nelly Abbas, EEG Recruiting & University Relations Manager- Human Resources at Schlumberger, won the NEX-GEN Female of the Year Award, while Shell won Employer of the Year Championing Inclusion & Diversity.

Network & Business Opportunities

Besides the mind-set rich environment promoted by EGYPS conferences, the event further offered a unique opportunity for attendees and over 400 regional and international companies to connect and expand their global business portfolios.

Attendees expressed enthusiasm with the exhibition, describing it as an amazing feature for future oil and gas opportunities. “The exhibition was amazing and included a large variety of companies. It will hopefully result into successful cooperation and growing investments,“ Lobna El Mougy, Deputy CEO at EGPC, stated.

Business Development Manager at Xodus, Mohammed Khalil, mentioned that the company has witnessed an increasing number of opportunities in the Egyptian oil and natural gas sector resonating from its participation in EGYPS. “This is the second year Xodus is exhibiting in the Egypt Petroleum Show and we have witnessed an increase in opportunities in the Egyptian oil and gas sector. The important work we have delivered over the last couple of years resulted to the expansion of existing contracts, and helped us identify new opportunities with new clients. This is an important period for Egypt’s energy sector and we are looking forward to being part of it,” Khalil stated.

Commenting on the prospects of the event, Minister Tarek El Molla pointed out that EGYPS is a promising window for upcoming years to attract both more attendees and participants, whether they are interested in the exhibition or the conference itself. The minister further emphasized the success of the petroleum sector in attracting investments and playing an efficient role to meet the demands of Egypt and the region in the nearest future.

Additionally, El Molla noted that EGYPS 2018 witnessed great momentum and international presence due to the success of the first edition. According to the minister, EGYPS 2018 significantly expanded in size, number of attendees, and number of panels and discussions compared to the previous year.

With EGYPS as one of the implementation elements of the ministry’s strategy to welcome international cooperation in Egypt’s journey towards becoming an energy hub, as El Molla stressed, the third edition of the event is confirmed for next year. EGYPS 2019 will take place in Cairo between February 11th and 13th, at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. Call for papers are already open, as well as the opportunity to book a stand in the exhibition halls.