Egypt's oil minister Tarek El-Mullah said on Thursday that the recently implemented Egyptian-Saudi maritime border demarcation deal will allow Egypt to start oil and gas exploration in the area for the first time, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.
"This region of the Red Sea has not witnessed any petroleum activity, with the exception of the Suez Gulf, it is an untouched area," El-Mullah said during the signing of two contracts between Egypt's South Valley Egyptian Petroleum Holding Company (Ganope) and two foreign geophysics companies tasked with gathering seismic data.
The minister also stressed that the project should be completed within one year, so the ministry will be receiving bids for oil and gas exploration in Egyptian territorial waters in the Red Sea and southern Egypt.
Ganope signed the two contracts with the British TGC and the US Schlumberger with investments of more than $750 million in the Red Sea and southern Egypt regions.
In mid-June, the Egyptian House of Representatives approved by a majority vote after heated discussions the Egyptian-Saudi deal, which hands the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ratified the deal soon after.
The deal was first signed by the Egyptian government and Saudi Arabia in April 2016.