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ENERGY IN EGYPT 2017: A YEAR OF TRANSFORMATION?
By Hugh Fraser, Office Managing Partner, Andrews Kurth Middle East
2017 promises to be a year of transformation for the Egypt energy sector. The Minister of Petroleum, Tarek El Molla, speaking at the OTC Conference in Houston in May last year candidly pointed to the challenges the Egyptian Government was facing with IOC debt accumulations, the burden of fuel subsidies and the impact of currency and expatriation of funds concerns among foreign investors.
THE EGYPTIAN UPSTREAM PETROLEUM SECTOR: LEGAL ANALYSIS OF JOINT OPERATING COMPANIES
Petroleum upstream projects in Egypt are considered a milestone in the growth of the Egyptian national economy and they are the main vehicle through which sustainable development may be achieved in the country. Petroleum production projects include two main phases, the exploration phase and the development and production phase.
Navigating through Production Sharing, Concession, and Service Agreements
Production Sharing, Concession, and Service Agreements are the three basic types of the contractual arrangements executed in petroleum exploration and production. These agreements are concluded between the host country (HC), where the exploration and production operations will take place, whether in its onshore or offshore territories, and its national oil company (NOC) and a petroleum company (IOC). IOC may consist of one company or a group of companies (consortium) and might be local or international.
Where Environmental CSR and Profitability Intersect
The hydrocarbon industry involves intensive activities that have the potential to bring significant environmental transformations. Fossil fuel burning, incidents of oil spills, and the myriad of damages inflicted by the energy sector have long created on and off conflicts between oil companies and local communities.
OPTIMISM IN EGYPT’s INVESTMENT ENVIRONMENT
In the global low oil prices environment, oil and gas companies are facing a decline. Costs for field exploration and development are higher than generated profit. Major oil producing companies in the region are reported to have slashed their budgets by 40% to 50%, and cancelled as much as 50% of their planned operations.
BURNING GAS, BURNING MONEY
For a country that is already juggling several economic problems, the prospect of saving an additional $300m per year is an exciting piece of news. The amount corresponds with annual losses that Egypt suffers from as a result of 2.5bcm of gas being flared in the country every year, according to preliminary findings of a study conducted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Explore or Ignore? Egypt’s Western Mediterranean
The vast wealth of hydrocarbons that lie beneath Egyptian waters in the Mediterranean Sea has recently attracted international attention and possibly provoked envy of some countries. While massive finds in the eastern Mediterranean areas have intensified interest in expanding exploration activities in the region, Egypt’s future may be promising when looking at the country’s northwestern coast as well.
Optimizing Egypt’s Fuel Distribution Scheme
Drivers of cars, taxis, micro buses, and trucks know the drill by heart. Line up in front of a petrol station, wait for hours, fill up your tank, and drive away. Fuel shortage crises in Egypt erupted on countless occasions in the last few years. The government seems in denial that these crises are genuine; reflecting on deficiencies in the country’s downstream sector. Yet, it has started implementing a new fuel distribution system. The government awaits its new smart cards scheme to do the trick, and generate a massive improvement in fuel supplies to end customers.
Coal for Energy: A Future or a Roadblock?
During the climate talks in Paris in early December, countries agreed to limit their carbon dioxide emissions. Several European countries have ambitious plans to close their coal-fired power plants. Coal, a large contributor to carbon dioxide emissions, seems to be on the retreat. However, Egypt is moving in a different direction.
Egypt’s Nuclear Program: More Questions than Answers
On November 19th, President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi announced that Egypt’s “long dream” of nuclear energy had come true. The Egyptian nuclear program, initiated during the Nasser presidency in 1955, is finally taking a step towards electricity production after sitting dormant for most of the last 60 years.