x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 November 2017

Egypt to launch new bid round for oil blocks this year, says minister 

The North African country also on track to start pumping gas from Zohr

Tarek El Molla, Egypt's oil minister confirmed that production from the giant Zohr offshore gas field is on track to start this year. Satish Kumar / The National
Tarek El Molla, Egypt's oil minister confirmed that production from the giant Zohr offshore gas field is on track to start this year. Satish Kumar / The National

Egypt’s General Authority for Petroleum (EGPC) plans to open a new bid round for onshore oil blocks, as the North African’s country seeks to lower energy imports and return to being an oil and gas exporter, the country’s oil minister said.

“EGPC’s onshore bid round will be before year end, nine to ten blocks will be offered from the Western desert and Eastern blocks,” Tarek El Molla said at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (Adipec) on Monday.

Egypt had become an energy importer in the last few years amid plunging oil and gas production and an uptick in consumption.

Last year it held two oil bid rounds as part of efforts to ramp up production and return to self-sufficiency.

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The minister confirmed that production from the massive Zohr offshore gas field is on track to start by the end of this year, which will help wean the country off imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The field, which was discovered by Italy’s Eni in 2015, is estimated to hold 30 trillion cubic feet of gas.

“We don’t need more discoveries to restart LNG production,” said Mr El Molla. “We have sufficient reserves. We have plenty of projects, which are divided into several phases and we’re undertaking those in order to increase production and to shortly stop importing LNG.”

Mr El Molla also said British oil major BP is committed to the second phase of the West Nile Delta gas development, with production expected to commence in 2019.

BP holds a 82.75 per cent stake in the project that will produce 1.5 billion cubic feet a day of gas when complete, equivalent to 30 per cent of Egypt’s current gas needs.