CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is trying to amend natural gas export deals with a number of countries, particularly Israel, and plans to rejig subsidies on petroleum products.
Petroleum Minister Abdullah Ghorab said media campaigns and public disapproval of gas exports were sufficient basis for negotiating greater benefits to Egypt, the official MENA news agency reported on Sunday.
“There is currently negotiation under way in full force to amend the gas agreements signed with various countries, especially Israel, with the aim of achieving a better return to Egypt,” MENA quoted Ghorab as saying.
Egypt exports gas to Israel through the East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) consortium, which is owned by Egyptian businessman Hussain Salem, Egypt Natural Gas Co, Thailand’s PTT, American businessman Sam Zell, Ampal-American and Israel’s Merhav.
The Egyptian press have accused the consortium, which supplies 45 percent of the gas needs of Israel’s electric utility, of selling its gas to Israel at below market prices.
Egypt’s gas exports to Israel represent 4 percent of total production, said Ghorab, who was speaking at his first press conference since he took up his post on March 7.
The supply of natural gas from Egypt to Israel resumed last week after the pipeline carrying it across the Sinai Peninsula was damaged in an explosion and fire on February 5.
Egypt also exports gas through a pipeline to Jordan and liquefied gas to other countries by sea.
Ghorab said that within Egypt the government would have to change the way it directed its petroleum product subsidies to consumers to assure they were delivered to the people who needed them and not diverted to other uses, MENA reported.
Subsidies, mainly for energy, accounted for more than a quarter of total spending in Egypt’s 2010/11 budget, the government said in June.
Ghorab said there was no thought of raising the price consumers paid for petroleum products and that Egypt would spend 82 billion Egyptian pounds to subsidise them them during the current financial year which ends on June 30.