Egypt will complete a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal by December, oil minister Sherif Ismail said on Monday, pushing back by another month the long-delayed project that is meant to help the country combat an energy crisis.
Egypt can export LNG but cannot import it without installing the terminal, which has been repeatedly delayed for two years, worsening an energy shortage that has caused regular blackouts throughout the country.
Egypt's oil ministry and Norway's Hoegh LNG said in May they had agreed for Egypt to use one of Hoegh's Floating Storage and Regasification Units (FSRU) for five years and that the terminal would be in place by September.
But an Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company source said in June the terminal was unlikely to arrive before October or November, while industry sources said in July Egypt had reopened talks with U.S.-based rival Excelerate Energy.
Gas is in short supply due to declining domestic production, forcing the government to divert gas earmarked for export to the domestic market to keep the lights on.
This has increased Egypt's debt to foreign energy companies, who have lost gas supplies they would have exported, and hampered investment in the country's energy sector.
Egypt's official Mena news agency quoted Ismail as saying that the total owed to foreign energy companies had risen to $7.11 billion and that Egypt had so far repaid $1.2 billion.