Egypt to allow firms to import gas, use network: Minister
Reuters, Thursday 23 Jan 2014
Egyptian government for the first time allows firms to import gas independently to face supply shortage

Egypt will allow companies to import gas using the government's network, the Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail told Reuters on Thursday in a move that could help address energy shortages that limit their production.

Energy-intensive cement and steel companies in Egypt have been forced to cut output in recent years during periods of peak use by everyday consumers in the country of 85 million.

Ismail told Reuters by telephone that the government had lifted restrictions on companies that had been prevented from importing natural gas independently.

"If the private sector has the desire to import natural gas at their expense, we have no problem with it," Ismail said.
He said that companies would be allowed to use the government's nationwide network for an unspecified fee.

Companies have in the past relied on the government to guarantee supply, a risky prospect given domestic gas shortages and energy subsidies that have long been a drag on state spending.
The minister said the move would "certainly contribute" to addressing the shortages that companies face.

Companies have also petitioned the government to allow them to use coal as an alternative source of energy to power their factories.

Trade and Industry Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour told a news conference on Wednesday that local supplies of oil and gas were currently "insufficient to cover the needs of Egyptian industry and household consumption".

"We need to diversify our sources," he said, adding that the government is discussing allowing cement companies to use coal but that the environment and tourism ministries oppose it.

Fakhry said government estimates have found that some 450 million cubic feet of gas per day could be saved if cement companies used coal instead of gas.