One of Egypt’s two liquefaction plants will back to full operation next month.
The 7.2mn t/yr Egyptian LNG (ELNG) facility will return to 100pc of nameplate capacity next month, the firm’s senior optimisation manager Tamer Abdelsalam told the Gastech conference in Houston. It is currently operating at 90pc capacity.
Full output is a far cry from the dark days of mid-2013 to mid-2019, when the volume of feed gas reaching the plant hovered at 13-15pc of design capacity. During that period, ELNG produced just 31mn m³ of LNG and exported 21 cargoes, bring in only $354mn in revenues, says Abdelsalam.
The return of ELNG, located at Idku, to full capacity may not, though, be followed swiftly by a full restart of Egypt’s other export terminal at Damietta. “That is for the government,” says Adelsalam. “They are taking the lead in negotiations around Damietta.”
The vast majority of feed gas into ELNG is coming from the offshore Simian and Sapphire fields, with just a very small proportion supplied by the national grid, says Abdelsalam. That obviously raises questions around Egypt’s existing LNG infrastructure’s capacity to export gas not just from Egypt but also from East Med neighbours Cyprus and Israel.
“There is always room,” says Abdelsalam, but offered no timeframe for when ullage in the terminal would be become available. That could be of particular concern from the Cypriot Aphrodite discovery, one option for evacuation of which is a direct pipeline to the Idku facility. Israeli imports would enter the Egyptian national grid through Sinai and would not connect directly to Idku.
And the congestion may only get worse, as Abdelsalam foresees yet more Egyptian domestic production by the end of the year with Eni’s Zohr field hitting 3bn ft³/d and the third stage of BP’s West Nile Delta project coming on stream.
One possible release valve, both for growing domestic output and imported gas, could be a third train at Idku, which is “technically very possible”. But Abdelsalam says discussions around expansion are still at a government level, which suggests that any green light on even beginning the project, never mind having additional export capacity available, could be some time away.
And Abdelsalam concedes that Egypt’s mid-decade experience of domestic gas shortages may make it conservative in sanctioning more gas exports, even at a time of surplus.
Source: Petroleum Economist