Egypt’s state-owned gas company Egas plans to hold a bidding round for natural gas exploration early next year, the petroleum minister said on Monday.

In October, the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) said it would hold its first bidding round to explore for oil and gas since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak and had invited international companies to enter.

“We have an ongoing bid round for EGPC. Another bid round will be announced for Egas in gas…early next year,” Abdullah Ghorab told reporters on the sidelines of a industry event in Doha.

Egypt’s current oil and condensate production is currently in the range of 700,000 barrels per day (bpd), while gas output is around 6 billion cubic metres, said Ghorab.

Egypt’s 20-year gas deal with Israel, signed in the Mubarak era, is unpopular with the Egyptian public. Critics argue that Israel has not been paying enough for the gas.

“What we’re doing now is we don’t have commitments for further exports and we’re also revising the future commitments,” he added.

Egypt’s proven reserves of oil and gas rose to 18.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent in the year to the end of June 2010 and the country has said it expects to boost them to 20 billion over the next two years.

Source: Reuters