Egypt will allow the international oil companies (IOCs) operating in Egypt to export surplus natural gas in five years, the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek El Molla, said, according to Reuters.

A new clause in Egypt’s exploration and production (E&P) contracts will permit IOCs to export excess natural gas, El Molla noted.

The contract changes are part of Egypt’s larger strategy to become a regional energy hub.

Egypt’s natural gas production rose to 5.5 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) after the Zohr natural gas field came online, El Molla previously told Reuters. The government expects that Egypt will reach natural gas self-sufficiency in 2018.