An official source at the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources said that the executive regulation of the gas market regulation law is expected to be completed within the next month.
According to the source, the members of the Natural Gas Market Regulatory Authority will be announced next month, while next month will also see deciding on the requests submitted from private sector companies to obtain a license to import and trade in gas within the Egyptian market.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi had ratified, in August, the New Gas Market Law, which provided for the establishment of a regulator of the gas market that would grant licenses to private companies to import gas.
Three private companies have obtained preliminary approval from the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), namely TAQA Arabia (owned by Qalaa Holding and Gulf funding institutions), Energy Fleet (based in Panama), and BB Energy, which is owned by a Lebanese family based in London.
The three companies are negotiating to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from international markets to receive it on the Suez Canal gasification ships.
Four new companies have since requested to obtain the license from EGAS to import gas.
The source said that the first gas importation license will be granted in the first half of 2018, noting that the regulator will set the fees for using the national gas network by the private sector.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources intends to take the necessary steps to liberalise the natural gas market over the next five years, making the market fully free by 2022.
In a press statement in October, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that Karim Mahmoud was appointed chief executive officer of the Natural Gas Market Regulatory Authority.
According to the law, the regulator of the gas market, in coordination with concerned government authorities, will prepare a gradual plan to liberalise the gas market to reach a competitive market, provided that it is presented to the concerned minister to approve it and present it to the cabinet for passage. The plan includes the stages of liberalising the market and the timeframe for each period, as well as the necessary requirements and the criteria for moving from one phase to another, to ensure fair competition.
According to the source, the authority will contribute to the transformation of Egypt into a regional hub for oil and gas trade in the coming years through allowing private companies to import LNG and use the facilities to supply natural gas to the market, next to allowing private sector companies to import natural gas from countries of the East Mediterranean to operate the liquefaction plans in Damietta and Idku, re-export it, or supply it to the domestic market.