Winter electricity black outs return to Egypt

Ahram Online, Wednesday 29 Jan 2014

Frequent power cuts are occurring despite lower consumption due to fuel supply shortages

power short cut
The Zamalek neighborhood of Cairo, during a power short cut, in Egypt (Photo: AP)

Power cuts have become frequent in Egypt even in winter when consumption is considerably lower than in the summer.

During the last 10 days, Egyptians have reported regular electricity cuts, the second wave of its kind this winter.

An electricity problem is occurring despite a dip in consumption to a maximum of 22,000 megawatts compared to 34,000 megawatts during the hottest months of the summer.

According to a source in the ministry of electricity that requested anonymity, the shortfall between production and consumption is due to a fuel shortage, specifically natural gas and Mazut.

"We are working with the petroleum minister to increase fuel supplies even through increasing imports,” the source told Ahram Online.

Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour, minister of industry and foreign trade said in a conference on Tuesday that the energy crisis is likely to last for at least two years because oil and gas resources do not cover consumption.

The government has proposed that the cement industry, an intensive energy user, shift to coal, but this suggestion was rejected by Laila Iskander, minister for environmental affairs, as well as a number of NGOs that started the "Egyptians Against Coal" campaign.

Last week, Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail said that the government will allow companies to import gas using the government's network, which could help address energy shortages that limit production.

Power cuts have become more frequent since August 2008, but have been mostly limited to summer. The phenomena in winter began in December 2012.

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