EU Turns to Egypt to Replace Russian Gas 

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The European Commission has proposed a deal to accelerate natural gas imports from Egypt in a bid to reduce its reliance on Russian gas.

With Egypt ramping up efforts to become a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) player through increased exploration, production and infrastructure build-up and modernization, the North African country is well-positioned to expand energy exports to Europe while addressing African energy demand.

Owing to its strategic location in close proximity to European markets as well as its success as a gas exporter, Egypt has emerged as an ideal supplier for Europe in the wake of the Russian-Ukraine conflict.

In 2021, Egypt exported approximately 8.9 billion cubic meters (bcm) of LNG, with 63 per cent destined for Asian markets and 31 per cent for Europe.

In 2022, this figure is expected to increase significantly following upstream developments including the Zohr, Atoll, Nooros and West Nile Delta discoveries as well as new commitments by Europe to invest in Egyptian gas projects.

With the Egyptian government set to introduce new licensing rounds in offshore frontier regions, new players are anticipated to enter the market while existing firms boost their own exploration initiatives.

Already, Italian energy major, Eni, has acquired two exploration blocks in the Meleiha concession following April 2022’s oil and gas discoveries in the Nada E Deep 1X well.

Meanwhile, firms including BP, APEX international, Energeen Egypt, INA-lndustrija Nafte d.d, Sipetrol, and United Energy are expected to pump new investments, drilling up to 33 new wells as part of the licenses awarded by the government in the 2021 International Bidding Round in the first quarter of 2022.

These licensing rounds coupled with the government’s new exploration drive have positioned the country as a highly competitive market as well as a top global exporter.

As Egypt looks to increase exports, European nations are turning their attention to the north African country, recognizing the opportunity to replace Russian gas with Egypt’s.

Earlier this month, the European Commission proposed a deal between EU states and Egypt and Israel whereby the East Mediterranean states will increase gas exports to the bloc.

Expected to be signed at the end of June 2022 following government approvals, the deal will usher in a new era of trilateral trade while strengthening European energy security.

Meanwhile, European-based energy major Eni is focused on scaling up exploration and production in Egypt in order to strengthen supply channels between the north African country and Europe.

In April 2022, Eni signed a deal with the Egyptian state energy firm, the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company, to increase exploration in the Nile Delta, Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Desert regions, boost production and streamline export processes by restarting the development of the multi-billion Damietta liquefaction plant and gas export terminal in Damiette.

The deal will not only improve E&P in Egypt but will position the country as a global energy exporter and Europe’s preferred supplier.

Furthermore, with the deal paving the way for Egypt to export up to three bcm of LNG to Europe via Italy from 2022, gas monetization in the north African country will reach greater heights.

Already, Egypt has witnessed a 98 per cent increase in export revenues to $3.9 trillion in the first four months of 2022 and a 768 per cent increase between 2020 and 2021, according to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources

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