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Egypt's PM says electricity problem will improve by Sunday

Assurance comes after meeting with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who has pressed for a rapid solution for Egypt's increasing blackouts

Ahram Online, Wednesday 20 Aug 2014
Ibrahim Mahlab
Egypt's PM Ibrahim Mahlab (Photo: Reuters)
Views: 3495
Views: 3495

Egypt's premier has promised a gradual improvement to the otherwise worsening problem of power cuts, with tangible results as soon as next week.

Speaking to reporters from the presidential palace on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said he met with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who asked for a time-bound plan to tackle the problem.

Mahlab said Egyptians will start feeling the progress made as of next Sunday.

Some 4,810 megawatts (mW) of electricity will be added to the nationwide grid by November, which should ease the gap between production and consumption, said Mohamed Shaker, minister of electricity, at the press conference.

Shaker also underlined the importance of diversifying the sources of electricity production due to insufficiency in natural gas. He suggested the use of liquified natural gas (LNG), nuclear energy and solar energy.

For his part, Petroleum Minister Ashraf Ismail announced raising the supply of natural gas to electricity stations by 100 million cubic feet (mcf) daily at the beginning of August, an additional 60 mcf in the next few days, 220 mcf in September, 235 mcf in October and 250 mcf in November and December.

The government is also planning to import LNG from Algeria and Russia, said Ismail, without specifying when.

Ismail said that production of domestic gas fields naturally diminishes. However, new fields will start production by 2016.

An exacerbating shortage of electricity has left the country in lengthy periods of darkness, with some Cairo neighborhoods witnessing one to two-hour blackouts up to six times a day this week.

"We admit there is a serious problem, but we are tackling it in a quick plan," Mahlab said.

Mahlab had earlier blamed power cuts on a lack of maintenance in aged power stations, a scarcity of fuel products to run them – and even terrorist attacks on electricity pylons.

He said the government recorded 300 attacks nationwide in past months, leading to a decreased production by up to 15 percent and a cost in damage of LE260 million (around $37 million).

The press conference followed El-Sisi’s meeting with Mahlab and the ministers of electricity and petroleum to discuss available options of investment in the power sector, as producing 1,000 megawatts (mW) requires an investment of $1 billion.

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