Tarek El Molla, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, highlighted securing 12 exploration and production (E&P) agreements with working international oil companies (IOCs) in Egypt and newly-enrolled companies such as; Chevron and ExxonMobil despite the pandemic challenges. This came during CERAWeek’s annual energy conference, the most prominent energy conference in the world, and comes as a part of a series of interviews with major figures participating in the next edition of the conference in March 2021.
During the conference, El Molla credited those achievements as a result of the success of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF). He added that EMGF country members established the forum to maximize each country’s resources and infrastructure; whether they are producers, consumers, or transit countries. He noted that this has brought other countries as well as international organizations to apply for a place at the forum either as observers such as the United States (US) or as a permanent member such as France.
Additionally, the minister clarified that through several economic reforms done in the past few years, Egypt has managed to power through the coronavirus crisis. The oil and gas sector has been a large part of containing the pandemic on an economic level, in addition to working continuously during the pandemic while maintaining safety practices. The minister elaborated on the said reforms, noting that it included several main axes such as; securing supplies locally, creating an attractive investment climate and incentives, as well as contracting with IOCs, and expanding in infrastructure development.
When it comes to attracting investments, El Molla remarked that paying off Egypt’s arrears to IOCs has been greatly beneficial. The minister added that in five years, Egypt has managed to decrease arrears from $6.3 billion to $850 million, reaching the lowest record of arrears in Egypt. Additionally, amending investment legislations has made Egypt a top investment destination, bringing over $30 billion in the past four years, achieving self-sufficiency of natural gas, and becoming an exporter. Adding to the list; establishing the first independent Gas Regulatory Authority (GASREG), developing and improving refineries, and establishing new infrastructure for transport, storage, and distribution has made Egypt investor-friendly.
El Molla added that Egypt’s petroleum sector contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased to 27%. He also drew on the topic of natural gas and energy translation, noting that natural gas remains and will remain a key player of energy resources for a long time until converting to clean energy, taking into consideration that Egypt aims to reduce its carbon footprint per international climate agreements such as the Paris Agreement.