CAIRO: An Egyptian-Chinese company will start producing oil rigs in Egypt next year, the Egyptian Oil Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. The new company, which will be 50 percent Egyptian and 50 percent Chinese, will start production with three rigs in 2007, rising to seven in 2008 and 20 a year in 2010, it said. Egyptian Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy signed an agreement on the project during a visit to China, it added. The statement did not name the Chinese or Egyptian partners but the customer for the rigs will be Sino-Tharwa, a joint venture drilling company set up in 2005 by the Egyptian government and the Chinese company Sinopec Corp. The statement said the rigs would be the first ever manufactured in the Middle East or in Africa. A shortage of rigs has been a constraint on oil and gas exploration in Egypt.