The statement was made on the sidelines of Egypt’s Petroleum Show (EGYPS 2023) taking place from 13-15 February, where Simson referred to the framework agreement signed last June between the EU, Israel, and Egypt to export liquefied gas to Europe after it is imported to Egypt from Israel via pipeline.
"We see that there is spare capacity in liquefaction facilities here in Egypt, but exact volumes were not part of our memorandum of understanding," said the EU energy commissioner, adding that Israel is the decider in terms of “the volumes they [Israel] are willing to export.”
“We [currently] have to solve some bottleneck issues,” Simson said.
Egypt has been looking to expand its own gas exports after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian War left much of Europe in an energy crisis.
In 2022, the country boosted its LNG exports by 14 percent to 8 million tons of LNG, 90 percent of which was delivered to the EU markets, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla said in November, as it sought to plug the hole left by lower Russian imports to the EU.
Earlier in 2021, Egypt exported nearly 7 million tons of LNG, from which 80 percent was shipped to the EU markets, according to El-Molla’s remarks at the time.
However, the minister said on Monday during the EGYPS 2023 that the country expects to produce about 7.5 million tonnes of LNG in 2023.
Reuters quoted El-Molla as saying on Monday that Egypt’s LNG plants were operating at less than full capacity, and could be expanded.
"They [the LNG plants] are ready for when we make the decision to increase their capacity to double or triple," he confirmed.
Since achieving self-sufficiency in natural gas in 2018, Egypt has planned on using its position on Europe’s doorstep to become a major supplier of LNG to the continent – which is transitioning away from other fossil fuels – based on recent huge gas discoveries and production.
Egypt has made a series of oil and gas discoveries in recent years, most notably the giant Zohr gas field off the Mediterranean coast. The gas field, which holds an estimated reservoir of 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, has drawn the interest of investors to the country’s energy sector. Egypt further experienced a “significant” gas discovery in its Eastern Mediterranean waters in January.
Egypt also has the infrastructure for transporting and handling natural gas with a network of 7,000 km in pipelines, a distribution network of 31,000 km, and 29 gas-treatment plants as well as two LNG facilities – the Idku and Damietta plants.
Egypt has seen an unprecedented leap in its natural gas export revenues, which have increased 13-fold over the past eight years, according to a report issued in September by the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC).
The country’s natural gas and LNG export revenues reached $8 billion in the fiscal year 2021/2022, up from $0.6 billion in 2013/2014, according to the report.
To further increase its gas supply, Egypt announced plans in August to save 15 percent of its natural gas supply used in domestic electricity production to be redirected for export with the aim of bringing in more foreign currency amid the spike in the prices of oil and basic goods.