Tarek El-Molla, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, signed two new agreements for oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Suez and Western Desert. The first agreement is for the Haliph area in the Western Desert with the Tunisia’s HBSI, with minimum investments of about $9m and a signature bonus of $1m, to drill 4 exploration wells, Egypt Oil & Gas reports.

This agreement reflects the Tunisian company’s confidence in the potential of the Western Desert, a major focus of its petroleum investments in Egypt and a location of previous successes.

The second agreement was for a contract extension for EGPC’s Gazurina oilfield for an additional 10 years, located to the West of Gamasa Al-Ardiya in the Gulf of Suez.

The agreements were signed on behalf of EGPC by EGPC chairman Mohammed Al-Masry. HBSI’s head Tariq Bouchmawy signed on behalf of the Tunisian company.

Following the signatures the Petroleum Minister said that the ministry has signed 63 new agreements so far for oil and gas exploration with international companies, with investments at a minimum of $14.3b for the drilling of 268 wells. He added that this is an important pillar to expanding production rates and Egypt oil reserves, one of the key objectives of the ministry, as outlined by the government and the priority it places on ensuring energy supplies for the domestic market.