By Ahmed Tolba
In his first statement as Petroleum Minister, Osama Kamal has hinted that energy subsidies could be cut as part of measures to address shortages in Egypt.
A number of proposals to rationalise energy consumption would be discussed in the coming period, Kamal said, noting that a large portion of the subsidies benefit those who are not in need of them.
The cabinet will hold a meeting within days to coordinate with the Ministry of Finance in order to create a national strategic reserve of petroleum products to satisfy consumption for between seven and ten days, Kamal said.
Despite the challenges Egypt faced over the past 18 months, the petroleum sector was able to repay EGP 23 billion in loans to Egyptian banks and US$24 billion to foreign partners and importers.
Foreign partners and importers affiliated with the Egyptian petroleum sector are hoping to exploit investment opportunities in Egypt according to Kamal, who said they have earmarked $8.5 billion for oil and gas exploration for the current fiscal year.
The minister admitted there has been a decline in gas pressure in the national network since last Saturday, but said electricity generated from gas was not affected. He denied that Egypt was exporting gas to Jordan at peak consumption periods, as exports to Jordan only take place when there is a surplus of gas in the Egyptian network.
To address grievances of employees of employees of state-owned petroleum companies, administrative councils for the various companies operating under the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) will be re-formed, Kamal said, stressing that a plan will be put in place within the next three months to close the gap in income between employees of the different companies.
Regarding problems at the Mopco factory in Damietta, Kemal said the problem was purely a security issue. There have been good-faith attempts to address the problem and restart the factory he said, and there is an agreement to send in maintenance crews in three shifts.