Natural Gas Act executive regs coming in days; talks with Aramco on refining in Egypt are underway
LEGISLATION WATCH- The executive regulations of the Natural Gas Act are coming in days, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said in an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday. The long-awaited regs would effectively open the door for the private sector to import, produce, and distribute gas, turning the state into a regulator of the national gas grid. Among its responsibilities will be to issue licences to import natural gas. Four unnamed private firms have already submitted requests to EGAS for preliminary approval on their import licenses. EGAS had reportedly approved natural gas import licenses in August for Fleet Energy, BB Energy, and Qalaa Holding’s TAQA Arabia following the issuance of the Natural Gas Act, effectively opening the market to competition.
El Molla also elaborated on plans to cut state LNG imports by 2018, explaining that the move was a result of the giant Zohr gasfield. The government will issue another tender for LNG in early 2018 to cover needs for the second quarter, and it plans to stop importing the fuel by the end of next year, El-Molla said. EGAS had issued a tender for 12 LNG shipments for delivery in 1Q2018.
El Molla confirmed that initial negotiations have taken place with Saudi Aramco to refine oil in Egypt, according to Reuters. El Molla had told Hona El Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi last night that the two sides are hoping to begin refining on a trial basis in Egypt in the beginning of 2018. This appears to contradict reports we noted over the past few months that agreements have already been signed. Al Borsa had reported that Aramco signed an agreement that will see it refine some of its crude through the Middle East Oil Refinery (MIDOR). This follows other reports that Aramco had agreed to a plan last month to ship crude through the SUMED pipeline and use Sidi Kerir as a center for exporting refined output to Europe.