Egypt’s petroleum ministry responded on Monday to news of a massive gas deal between Egyptian private company Dolphinus and Israeli gas firms, saying it makes "no comment on negotiations or deals involving private sector companies over importing or selling natural gas."
In press statements on Monday evening, Egypt’s petroleum ministry spokesman Hamdy Abdel Aziz said the ministry would deal with any permit or license requests by the private sector in accordance with applicable regulations, in light of Egypt’s strategy of becoming a regional hub for energy.
He added that the government has been taking measures to liberalize the natural gas market, putting in place a regulatory framework that allows private companies to use the national gas grid to trade within approvals and requirements laid down by the Gas Market Regulatory Authority.
The statements come hours after Israel's Delek Drilling company announced that Egyptian private company Dolphinus is set to import gas from Israel worth $15 billion, pending regulatory approval from both countries.
The partners in Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan natural gas fields, led by Israeli firm Delek and Texas-based company Noble, signed two deals on Monday to sell gas to Egyptian gas trading company Dolphinus over a ten-year period.
Total revenues from the Tamar and Leviathan projects are estimated to be $7.5 billion each.
The total quantity of gas contracted in the Leviathan and Tamar agreements is approximately 32 billion cubic metres (bcm) for each agreement, which corresponds to up to 3.5 bcm per year.
Israel hailed the agreement, announcing it as a "historic" one, in statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Egypt has repeatedly affirmed its aim of becoming a regional energy trading hub, especially following new gas discoveries and a new natural gas law last year that allows for competition in the market by granting licenses to import gas for private companies, ending a state monopoly on the sector.
In December, petroleum minister Tarek El Molla said that Egypt will achieve self-sufficiency in natural gas before the end of 2018.
Mammoth gas gield Zohr and the North Alexandria and Nooros fields are expected to increase Egypt's natural gas output by 50 percent in 2018 and 100 percent in 2020, the Ministry of Petroleum said in October.