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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Egypt’s USD 15 bn gas import agreement unlocked East Med to E&P majors

Egypt’s Dolphinus Holding’s USD 15 bn agreement to import gas from Israel could have unlocked the East Mediterranean gas field for oil and gas majors who have long eyed the fields, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). “ExxonMobil, Shell, Total and others are planning to invest in exports and exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. Their prospects were buoyed by a landmark contract last month between U.S., Israeli and Egyptian firms that breathed new life into the regional market.” Eni, which discovered Zohr, is trying to get in on Lebanon, while ExxonMobil is looking to be the latest entrant. As we noted on Monday, Shell is reportedly nearing a USD 25 bn agreement to bring gas from Israel and Cyprus to its liquefaction plants in Egypt. This comes despite political hurdles that have traditionally kept these companies away from the region, with Turkey’s harassment of Cyprus and Lebanon-Israel disputes over areas being the latest of these. The piece somehow draws the connection between these discoveries and US diplomatic efforts to help bring regional powers, especially Israel and Egypt, together.

Meanwhile, debate continues in the industry on how to price natural gas. Exporters favor pegging prices to crude oil, while buyers are opting for different formulas used by the US and Australia, which are emerging as top exporters, Bloomberg reports. Prices have to be linked to crude oil to keep expected revenue predictable, with some USD 8 tn of investment in gas infrastructure needed by 2040, according to Yury Sentyurin, the new head of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, an industry group representing gas sellers. “Consumers should understand the peculiarities which producers face. Security of investment and supply can only be on the basis of long-term contracts closely connected to oil prices so we could plan further investments into crucial infrastructure,” he added.

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