The European Union (EU) is keen to support Egypt’s vision to become a regional gas hub. Furthermore, the EU supports the country in potentially using Egyptian liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Idku and Damietta in order to export gas and to facilitate regional cooperation with other countries in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region, such as Cyprus and Israel, Head of the EU delegation to Egypt, Ambassador Ivan Surkoš, told Daily News Egypt.
“This will give a welcome boost to Egypt’s economy, while improving energy stability in the region. And it will give the EU access to another welcome source of LNG supply at its doorstep. The Port of Antwerp, Belgium in particular, will provide needed support to help Egypt become a central hub for bunkering, including LNG and oil. We will be working with Egypt to achieve that purpose,” added Surkoš.
Egypt and the EU have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for strategic cooperation in Energy in April 2018, he noted, adding that Egypt’s vast untapped energy potential holds immense opportunities for citizens and businesses to fully benefit from the sustainable energy transition.
Egypt has become an indispensable energy partner for the EU, since the country’s first gas discovery in 1960s, Surkoš mentioned, noting, ”Egypt had impressive new gas discoveries of Zohr and in the Nile Delta as well as in Abu Madi and others. The development in this context is so far very promising.”
Surkoš said that in December 2017, less than two and a half years after the discovery of the Zohr field started production which is a record time from discovery to production, adding, “This demonstrates Egypt’s commitment into making the gas business in the country quite attractive to interested companies. Many research and exploration activities involving European companies are ongoing.”
He added that Egypt’s electricity demand is growing rapidly due to its growing population and the economic and industrial development, adding that according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Egypt’s demand for energy is increasing at a rate of 1,500MW to 2,000MW a year.
“This is a huge increase and meeting this demand calls for equally huge investments. The need to develop alternative indigenous power resources is becoming ever more urgent,” he explained, noting that the Egyptian government is taking action in the right direction with its new ‘Sustainable Energy Strategy 2035’, which was funded by the EU.
Surkoš said that the EU has co-funded the 240MW wind farm in Gulf El-Zayt and is currently funding another 250MW wind farm which is currently under construction in Gulf of Suez along with the European International Financial Institutions (EIFI).
“The cost of both wind farms amount to €700m. They will increase Egypt’s energy production from wind by over 80%,” he mentioned, adding that upon the invitation of the Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek El-Molla, the Cypriot, Greek, Israeli, Italian, Jordanian, and Palestinian ministers of energy met in Cairo to discuss establishing a regional governmental international organisation called the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF).
The EU participated at the aforementioned meeting and was invited to become a member with an observer status, he said, noting that the ministers of the seven Eastern Mediterranean countries all welcomed the EMGF initiative, and declared their intentions to establish the EMGF and to work together on a unified approach based a common vision for the future.
“All ministers confirmed their interest. They agreed that the forum sends two strong messages to governments in Europe and elsewhere to show that the Eastern Mediterranean players are cooperating and can be reliable partners, while the second message is to the private sector which also needs to be comforted and to know that the governments are fully backing the development of this resource,” he mentioned.
The EU welcomes the EMGF initiative as it helps achieve the prospect of “economic peace” and create stronger economic integration between regional states, which would see enhanced relations and pave the way for greater stability there, he noted.
The initiative will also serve the objectives of the Energy Union, namely, energy security and diversification of sources and routes, he said, adding that the EMGF will have its permanent basis in Cairo.
The goal of the EMGF is to become an international organisation with a mission to contribute toward a structured policy dialogue. This ought to lead to the development of a regional gas market in order to unlock the full gas resource potential in the Eastern Mediterranean region, thus setting the stage for a regional multilateral and full trade hub, he noted.