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Thursday, 17 December 2020

Zero to 60 in…?

Some 250k old cars will be taken off the road and outfitted with dual-fuel engines by the end of 2023 under the first phase of the government’s multi-year natural gas transition plan, which will kick off at the start of 2021, Trade Minister Nevine Gamea said on the airwaves this week (watch, runtime: 9:08). The first year aims to cover 70k cars that have been on the road for over 20 years — including 55k taxis and passenger cars and 15k microbuses, the minister said. The two following years should get 90k cars each, meaning a combined 180k vehicles, to hit a total of 250k by the end of 2023. The first phase of the program will cover seven areas around Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, and Qalyubia, according to a local press report.

This three-year first phase has now been expanded to include passenger cars after having previously only targeted taxis and microbuses, following orders from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Dated microbus owners would receive support of EGP 20k and cab drivers with old vehicles EGP 12k to help cover the down payment for the new cars, the sources speaking to the local press yesterday claimed. Under a Finance Ministry proposal, owners of passenger cars will also be entitled to down payment support to make the switch, but depending on the type of their vehicle, they added. The remaining cost of the vehicle will be paid over 10-year installments at reduced rates of less than 5% under a financing program backed by the Central Bank of Egypt, Gamea had said.

Dual-fuel cars assembled locally under the plan could be in line for value-added tax and customs breaks on inputs, the sources quoted by the press yesterday said. Gamea’s ministry is preparing a draft law to hand over to the newly-elected House of Representatives after the MPs take office in January, Khaled Saad, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Association of Automobile Manufacturers, told Enterprise yesterday.

Currently there are several models of locally-assembled passenger cars that use natural gas, seven of which will be on display in an expo Egypt plans to hold in the second half of January 2021. Those models include locally-assembled cars by Chevrolet, Hyundai, Lada, and BYD, Saad told us. For microbuses, there are two models, King Long and Zemex, ready to join the program, Saad said. Carmakers Toyota, Foton, and Jinbei are expected to begin locally assembling natgas models in 2021, he adds. We had also noted last month that Brilliance Auto Group is in talks with its parent company, HuaChen Group Auto Holding, about potentially participating with locally-assembled microbuses.

We’ll be waiting to hear more on the strategy following the expo, Gamea had said earlier this week.

Want more? We took a deep dive this summer into the plan in our weekly infrastructure vertical Hardhat: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3.

ASORC’s USD 450 mn fuel plant to begin trial operations

IN OTHER ENERGY NEWS- Assiut Oil Refining Company’s (ASORC) USD 450 mn new high octane fuels plant will begin trial operations this week, Youm7 reports, quoting unnamed oil industry sources. The state-run facility, which has a capacity of 800k tonnes a year, will be fully up and running before the year is out, the sources said. The project comes as part of government efforts to reduce Egypt’s reliance on petroleum imports, with an eye to achieve self sufficiency by 2023, the sources added.

Other projects in the pipeline include an USD 2.3 bn expansion of MIDOR’s refinery in Alexandria and a USD 1 bn hydrocracking facility that’s being set up by French construction firm Technip for the Assiut National Oil Processing Company — a company founded last year by ASORC, the EGPC and other government-affiliated entities.

Overall, the plan to gradually halt petroleum imports will still see investments of USD 7.5 bn over the next three years, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla recently said. Projects already inaugurated have led to a 50% reduction in Egypt’s annual fuel imports, which fell to some 1.5 mn tonnes from 3 mn tonnes previously. At this rate, Egypt will stop importing petroleum products during FY2022-2023. Egypt had previously been expected to reach this target by the end of this year. It’s unclear if the covid-19 pandemic has slowed down the planned refining projects.

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