2023 Yearender: Power outages

Tuesday 19 Dec 2023



IN JULY, a shortage of natural gas for electricity production resulted in nationwide power outages that continued throughout the summer. The government announced that increased demand for electricity because of the intense summer heat had outstripped gas supplies to power plants.

Egypt’s natural gas comes mainly from the Eastern Mediterranean Zohr Field which began production in 2018 and currently provides 38 per cent of Egypt’s natural gas.

Following its discovery, Zohr was supposed to allow Egypt not only to become self-sufficient in terms of gas but to produce enough fuel for export. Output from the field, however, has declined over the past three years, falling to 2.3 billion cf/d in 2023 compared to 2.76 cf/d in the third quarter of 2021.

As people grew weary of power outages, speculation grew that natural gas was being exported, leaving domestic power plants short of fuel. Petroleum Minister Tarek Al-Molla rebuffed the claims, saying all of Egypt’s natural gas production was going to supply electricity generators.

The shortage in domestic supplies was exacerbated at the end of the summer by a temporary halt of Israeli natural gas exports to Egypt. Israel blamed the security situation in Gaza and supplies only resumed in November.

The two countries have agreed to export natural gas to Europe, with Egypt also importing Israeli gas for domestic consumption. The export of natural gas is seen as an important factor in helping Egypt overcome its foreign currency reserve deficit.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 21 December, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Short link: