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Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Gov’t will only approve gas imports from Israel after disputes are resolved -El Molla

The government will not issue permits to companies to import natural gas from Israel until the arbitration cases between Egypt and Israel are resolved, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said, according to Reuters. The government will sign off on agreements to import from our eastern neighbor only once the disputes are resolved and under the condition that the agreements “add value,” El Molla say. “Delegations [from Israel] are healthy as it means there are discussions and negotiations, but they have to meet the conditions put by the government as that is only fair,” he says. “In 2015, the International Chamber of Commerce ordered Egypt to pay USD 2 bn in compensation after [an agreement] to export gas to Israel via pipeline collapsed in 2012 due to attacks by insurgents in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula,” the newswire notes.

Dolphinus Holdings, a company owned in part by industrialist Alaa Arafa, has long been interested in importing natural gas from Israel’s Tamar gas field, as we have previously noted on multiple occasions. Israel said last year that it could settle for less than half the total fine imposed in the case brought by Israel Electric, which Egypt has sought to overturn since December 2015.

Speaking on upcoming local projects, El Molla said that the EGPC plans to open a new bid round for onshore oil blocks, according to The National. “EGPC’s onshore bid round will be before year end, nine to ten blocks will be offered from the Western desert and Eastern blocks,” he said.

Separately, El Molla also said that the government aims to finalize contracts with local and foreign companies that were awarded five gold mining concessions by year’s end. Four firms, including two foreign companies, were awarded the five blocks in the Eastern Desert and the Sinai peninsula in the first tender for new gold exploration since 2009 last January. There are no plans for offering new concessions until the contracts for this year’s tender are finalized, El Molla says. Egypt’s largest gold producers, including Centamin, Aton Resources, and Thani Stratex, had all refused to participate in the bid round citing concerns over the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority (EMRA)’s insistence that production sharing agreements were the way to go. Former head of EMRA Omar Taima had challenged them saying the bid round was “successful,” despite no participations from major companies.

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