After the cabinet’s statement attributing low rates of cement production to power shortages, the Ministry of Petroleum said that it has delivered 65% worth of natural gas supplies to cement factories, contracted to be sent in January and February.
“After adding diesel to the quantities, it reached 77%,” the ministry detailed.
In contradiction to these figures, head of the cement industry at the Federation of Egyptian Industries Medhat Stephanos stated in January that the state-run Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) had reduced gas supply to cement producers by 50%.
Interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb held a meeting to discuss the same issue with the ministers of Industry, Petroleum, Electricity and Environmental Affairs on Sunday. The meeting was also attended by Stephanos to discuss solutions regarding the low cement supply in the market and means of lowering the consequently high prices.
The attendees of the meeting agreed to “diversify energy resources and expand the usage of new and renewable energy” in order to meet the gas shortage.
During the second half of 2013, the natural gas supply in cement factories registered 83% of the contracted quantities, and the remaining amount had been substituted by diesel, a Monday statement from petroleum ministry said.
The statement noted that cement production was negatively affected by explosions in natural gas pipelines in Sinai three times during the past two months, “which caused cement factories to suspend working for 35 days”.
Chairman of EGAS Khaled Abdel Badie said in the statement that the supply of natural gas to cement factories ranks third in terms of priority to the amount supplied to the electricity sector and fertiliser factories. “Cement factories have the ability to use alternative sources of energy,” he added.
With regard to using alternative energy sources, Minister of Environmental Affairs Leila Iskandar announced on Monday that her ministry is currently researching the use of coal as a source of energy.
Abdel Badie also noted that the ministry allowed in October private sector companies and factories to “directly” import natural gas, which he said they refrained from doing.