The Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) Chairman Mohammed Al-Masry told Egypt Oil & Gas that EGPC agreed totally with the head of Italy’s Eni that the Zohr giant gas field needed to enter into production to help bridge the gap between production and consumption in Egypt. The petroleum ministry was going out of its way to provide all the supply facilities needed for foreign investors to accelerate the pace of exploration in the coming period.

Al-Masry explained that preparations for extraction will begin during mid-December 2016, especially as the text of the gas agreement between the government and Eni gives Egypt the right to buy all of the foreign partner’s share, amounting to 40%, after the foreign partner is reimbursed for drilling costs.

He added that between 22 and 26 tcf of gas is expected to be extracted from the field, noting that drilling will start at the beginning of 2017.

For his part, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek El-Molla, said that the petroleum sector had a plan for the development of fields, increasing the number of wells and intensifying exploration, as well as encouraging investment from foreign partners. All this to insure that rising production rates keep pace with growing needs.

Despite EGPC’s and Eni’s desire to see the field put on line quickly, the issues of the price of the gas produced, and the amount of investment needed, remain. Almal News reports that the EGPC has not concluded its negotiations over the price of the gas from the field and that there is consistent disagreement over the amount of investment needed for the field – the EGPC estimating $14b and Eni estimating $16b.