Amira El-Mazni, assistant vice chairperson at the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), said that the number of companies applying for licences to import natural gas from abroad increased to five companies.
El-Mazni told Daily News Egypt that four companies applied to obtain the licence earlier, and a fifth company applied last week. This took place in a meeting organised by the British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) with officials from EGAS and the Egyptian National Gas Company (GASCO) to discuss the latest developments on the gas market regulation law.
The cabinet approved the draft law of gas market regulation that includes organising the process of importing gas from abroad through private sector companies in October 2015.
She added that the companies are Egyptian and foreign. They include a European company with an office in Dubai, which applied for the licence on behalf of the Dubai office.
The Ministry of Petroleum announced in January 2014 that the private sector can import natural gas from abroad and deliver it through the national network for a fee paid by these companies, provided that they obtain the licence.
El-Mazni said that within two months, EGAS will give licences to at least two companies to import gas. She added that EGAS will grant the rest of the licences gradually over the coming months.
She added that the companies that are getting their licences in two months might not implement the process to import gas during this summer as the contracting process requires a long time.
The shortfall between supply and demand in the natural gas market in Egypt amounts to about 700m cubic feet per day and is expected to rise to 1.77bn cubic feet per day during fiscal year 2017/2018. The government has taken a number of measures to counter this deficit, such as launching a tender to hire a third Regas compound, besides the two floating compounds at Ain Sokhna, in parallel with allowing the private sector to import gas from abroad.
For his part, Khaled Abu Bakr, head of the Egyptian Gas Association, called for the rapid completion of the gas market regulation law that is being seized during the current period by the State Council, to open markets for companies that wish to invest in the field of natural gas.
El-Mazni replied that the State Council will consider the law during the current period, and may take some time to issue the law due to the State Council’s preoccupation with a number of other laws.