AFRICANGLOBE – Egyptians have now woken up to government plans to issue a tender to import gas in the next few weeks.
This comes many years after being told that the country’s natural gas reserves were almost bottomless.
“They were lying to us,” Amr Kamal Hammouda, an energy consultant and manager of the Al-Fustat Centre for Studies and Consultation, told an Egyptian weekly newspaper. “For 20 years, the Ministry of Petroleum has been exaggerating estimates of Egypt’s reserves.”
According to Hammouda, the ministry had claimed that Egypt had 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, but experts have put reserves at less than half that figure.
“They used to make deceiving calculations,” Hammouda said, adding that reserves are usually calculated in terms of real reserves, possible reserves and likely reserves. But the ministry added all three together, he claimed.
The government had also overlooked the fact that it only had the right to half of the gas recovered, since outputs were split with companies producing the gas.
The minister of petroleum announced recently that the government would be issuing a call for tenders in a few weeks for the import of natural gas “to cover the government’s needs, whether for the electricity sector or for government-owned factories,” according to the reports.
The government had been contemplating the idea of allowing the private sector to import their energy needs in order to overcome its inability to meet growing consumption.
What is new is for the government to start importing gas to cover its own needs, and shortages of the gas used as fuel in power stations have been plunging many parts of the country into darkness.