Several US oil companies have expressed their interested in developing Egypt’s offshore oil and natural gas resources and are expected to bid in the sale of exploration blocks in the Red Sea, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said yesterday, without naming specific companies, according to Reuters. An exploration and production tender for oil and gas in offshore concession blocks in the Mediterranean is due to close on 29 November, while a second bidding round for concession areas in the Red Sea is scheduled to open before the end of year.
Molla, who met U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon in Cairo last week, said bidding for exploration and exploitation of gas and oil in offshore concession blocks in the Mediterranean under state-run importer EGAS.
Officials and industry sources said last year that Exxon Mobil was considering a foray into Egyptian offshore oil and gas, seeking to replicate rivals’ success in the country and boost its reserves.
Molla highlighted the existing operations of U.S. companies including Apache, which is currently engaged in onshore exploration and production.
“We’d like to have and attract more companies in the oil and gas sector for the offshore, and I think that with the opening of … the new frontier area like the Red Sea and what we are talking about now in the bid rounds of EGAS and (state-controlled Egyptian General Petroleum Corp) EGPC, this is all really attracting a lot of attention to American companies,” he said.
Molla has said previously that Egypt aimed to attract about $10 billion in foreign investment in the oil and gas sector in the fiscal year that began in July 2018.
The minister said that while Egypt was focusing on using its infrastructure to become a regional gas trading hub, importing gas from countries including Cyprus and Israel, Cairo would honor a contract with Jordan that had been delayed by domestic needs.
“But now, as we have reached the self-sufficiency two months ago, when we resume exports priority will be for those existing contracts,” he said.
Egypt has signed a deal with Cyprus for the construction of a pipeline that will channel gas from the island’s Aphrodite field to facilities in Egypt.
Molla said there was no specific date for work to start on the pipeline but cited the Cypriot side as saying the pipeline could be up and running within four years.
An Egyptian company has signed a $15 billion deal to import gas from Israel for processing in Egypt.
“So we will import and export at the same time, so we’re talking about a trading hub,” Molla said.