Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi receives the ministers who participated in the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) meeting in Egypt, 15 June 2022. Egyptian Presidency
President El-Sisi’s remarks came after Egypt signed a landmark natural gas deal with Israel and the European Union.
Egypt, Israel, and the EU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under which Israel will transport natural gas to the EU from Egypt after being liquified.
The EU aims through this deal to reduce its dependency on Russian gas amid the Ukraine crisis after importing around 40 percent of its overall consumption of natural gas from Russia last year.
The MoU serves as a framework for companies to sign future agreements and contracts regarding the implementation of projects related to gas infrastructure, liquefication, and exportation, Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources said in a joint press conference with his Israeli and Greek counterparts.
The MoU will enable Israel “for the first time” to export Israeli natural gas to Europe, the Israeli Ministry of Energy said in a statement. In addition, the ministry noted that the signatories will work together to enable regular gas supply to the EU using Egyptian natural gas liquefaction infrastructure.
Under the MoU, the EU will encourage European companies to participate in competitive projects of exploration and production of natural gas in Egypt and Israel, according to the Israeli ministry.
The MoU will run for three years from now and will be automatically renewed for an additional two years, the ministry noted.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that the deal “is a big step forward in the energy supply to Europe but also for Egypt to become a regional energy hub.”
The deal was signed in Egypt during a ministerial meeting for the Cairo-based EMGF. Established in 2020, the forum is an international organisation that embraces eight countries including Egypt and Israel and seeks to boost gas trade among regional states.
During the forum’s meeting, El-Sisi highlighted EMGF possible roles in achieving economic development in the region through resolving the global energy crisis, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.
El-Sisi added that this requires intensifying bilateral and regional cooperation among EMGF member states to secure an optimum use of their resources by enhancing exploration operations and boosting production capacities.
El-Sisi said that he closely follows up on the outcome of the EMGF meeting, affirming Egypt’s full support to the forum and its objectives to serve development interests of the region’s countries and as well as its contribution to providing a sustainable source of energy for their peoples and future generations.
In return, the ministers hailed Egypt’s establishment of the EMGF and praised its efforts in establishing an organised regional dialogue on natural gas that helps East Mediterranean countries to formulate policies for cooperation in the energy field.
Egypt, which achieved self-sufficiency in natural gas in 2018, seeks to become a regional energy hub. Egypt’s natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export revenues rose by 98 percent to reach $3.892 billion in the first quarter of 2022, Reuters reported citing data from the Egyptian petroleum ministry.
Egypt’s exports of LNG amounted to 4.7 billion cubic meters in the first five months of 2022 and 8.9 bcm last year, Reuters reported citing data from Refinitiv Eikon.
Besides Israeli gas, the EU also hopes that more Egyptian gas can be brought into Europe through less costly pipelines without having to be liquified.
Egyptian gas exports to Europe were around two million tons in 2021, up from just 270,000 the previous year, according to data from S&P Global Platts.
On another note, Von der Leyen, which attended the signing of the gas MoU during her visit to Egypt, said that the EU is working with Egypt on a hydrogen partnership that will hopefully launch at UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh this November.
This comes while Egypt has recently signed preliminary deals for green hydrogen and ammonia projects to press ahead with the country’s strategy to increase green fuel in its energy sector.