Can Egypt raise its share of LNG imports to Europe after the crisis of Russia and Ukraine?

yousef27 February 2022Last Update : 2 years ago
Can Egypt raise its share of LNG imports to Europe after the crisis of Russia and Ukraine?

Europe accounted for 26% of the total Egyptian liquefied gas exports during the past year.

Egypt exported 1.7 million tons of liquefied gas to the old continent in 2021, equivalent to 2% of the total gas imports to European markets last year.

Egyptian liquefied gas exports reached 6.5 million tons in 2021, compared to 1.5 million tons in 2020, according to a report prepared by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC).

Egyptian gas exports grew by 385 percent during the past year 2021, which is the highest growth rate in the world during the mentioned period.

The growth of Egyptian exports was boosted by the restart of the liquefaction complex in Damietta in February 2020 after an 8-year hiatus.

The outstanding performance of Egyptian gas exports has raised the ceiling of ambitions to acquire a larger share of European market imports, especially with the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, whose sanctions may be extended later to include Russian gas exports to Europe, which represent 18% of the total gas imports to Europe.

“Imposing sanctions on Russia creates better export opportunities for Egypt, Qatar, Algeria and Nigeria, but benefiting from these opportunities is not easy, especially for Egypt,” according to experts and analysts who spoke with Economy.

Mohamed Saad El-Din, Vice President of the Petroleum Chamber of the Federation of Industries, said that the Russian-Ukrainian crisis will raise the demand for Egyptian liquefied gas in Europe in conjunction with the increase in its prices.

Saad El-Din explained that the percentage of benefiting from the increase in demand in Europe depends on the extent of Egypt’s ability to meet those needs, especially since the Egyptian liquefaction plants have a maximum capacity that cannot be increased from production, however, Egypt is linked to supply contracts for non-European countries until 2025.

According to the deputy head of the Petroleum Chamber, the capacities of the Egyptian liquefaction plants in (Idku and Damietta) reach 2 billion cubic feet per day, only part of which can be exported.

He added that Egypt is governed by the production capacity of liquefaction plants, especially since it does not own gas pipelines directly to Europe, but rather liquefies natural gas and exports it overseas.

He pointed out that Egypt will benefit from the crisis by visiting the production capacity of liquefaction plants to the maximum capacity and selling surplus production in European auctions after excluding the contracted quantities.

He mentioned that the chances of increasing Egypt’s share in the European markets will be more available after the end of long contracts with Asian countries that account for the largest share of Egypt’s exports.

The production capacity of the two liquefaction complexes (Idku and Damietta) is about 12.2 million tons annually, 5 million tons in Damietta and 7.2 million tons in Idku complex, according to OAPEC estimates.

Egypt succeeded in operating both complexes during the fourth quarter of 2021 at their full design capacity of 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, taking advantage of the surplus from local consumption due to the decline in demand for electricity in the winter season.

The fourth quarter of 2021 witnessed the export of about 0.7 million tons from the Damietta complex, bringing the total exports from the complex since its restart in February 2021 to more than 2.2 million tons.

India, Pakistan, China and recently Turkey acquired the largest shipments of LNG from the Damietta terminal.

Dr. Alia Al-Mahdi, former dean of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, said that one of the positives that will come back to Egypt’s economy from the Russian-Ukrainian crisis is that it will gain a competitive advantage as one of the most important alternative markets for gas export to Europe, especially after its high prices.

Al-Mahdi added that the outbreak of the crisis definitely disrupts Russia’s exports, which is an important source of gas export to Europe, and thus created an opportunity for Egypt to be one of the alternative countries to export gas, especially since Egypt has a good surplus.

And she continued: In my opinion, Algeria, Libya, Egypt and the countries of the Gulf region, such as Qatar and Iran, will be the alternative refuge for importing gas instead of Russia, although I expect Egypt to be the closest among these countries to Europe.

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