By Mohamed Adel
The Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) announced that is has stopped pumping natural gas to several fertiliser companies including Misr Fertilisers Production Company (MOPCO), Alexandria Fertilisers Company (AlexFert), and the Egypt Basic Industries Corporation (EBIC).
A senior official at EGAS who requested anonymity said the stoppage, due to the increased gas consumption by power plants, started on 27 June and will continue until 2 July. The official also said that low gas production rates compounded the stoppage.
In accordance with contracts, the total amount pumped daily to the three factories, considered the top producers of urea and ammonia, is 157m cubic feet of gas. According to the official, 45m cubic feet of gas are pumped to MOPCO, AlexFert receives 47m cubic feet of gas, while EBIC is pumped 65m cubic feet of gas.
EGAS has cut daily gas supply to all cement and fertiliser factories by 567m cubic feet, though these factories are equipped to use approximately 940m cubic feet of gas daily.
According to the official, 340m cubic feet of gas supply has been cut from all cement factories, whose consumption of gas can reach 430m cubic feet daily. Meanwhile, 227m cubic feet of gas have been cut from fertiliser factories, which can reach an estimated 510m cubic feet of gas consumption daily.
This week, Egypt’s gas production rate fell to approximately 4.65bn cubic feet per day, down from 4.75bn cubic feet last week. This is a result of a natural decline in wells, the official said.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) stopped pumping gas from the Methanex plant in Damietta over two weeks ago, so as to decrease the quantities of gas present in the network and to increase consumption in power plants, the official said.
He explained that the Methanex plant consumes 120 million cubic feet of gas per day, from which it produces methanol, selling it to both domestic and international petrochemical plants.
The official noted that Methanex owns 60% of the units of methanol, while the Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding 12%, EGAS another 12%, the Egyptian Company for Natural Gas (GASCO) 9%, and the Arab Petroleum Investment Corporation (APICORP) owns the remaining 7%.
During June, the average rate of consumption at gas power plants ranged between 75m cubic metres per day and about 81m cubic metres per day, in addition to 23,000 tons of fuel oil, according to the official.
He continued saying that the production of gas in Egypt has fallen at a rate of 100 m cubic feet per month, and that the wells entering into production will be small-scale and will be to offset the decline—not to increase production.
He added that Egypt is facing a severe shortage in the production of natural gas, as development as well as research by foreign partners has slowed. This has led to the lack of connecting new wells to the production line in order to offset the decline.