Egypt to Auction 8 Oil, Gas Blocks

Egypt to Auction 8 Oil, Gas BlocksEgypt to Auction 8 Oil, Gas Blocks

Egypt will hold an international auction for eight oil and natural gas exploration blocks in the Mediterranean Sea, the oil ministry said on Sunday, as the government seeks to boost production to curb persistent energy shortages.

Khaled Abdel Badie, head of state-run Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), told Reuters the auction would be launched before the end of February.

The eight blocks up for auction are West Arish Marine, East Port Said Marine, North Rumana Marine, North Ras al-Ash Marine, West al-Timsah Marine, South Taneen Marine, North Hammad Marine, and East Alexandria Marine, the ministry said in a statement. They cover an area of 11,849 square kilometers (4574.92 square miles), the statement said.

Egypt has accelerated the pace of auctions for exploration and production blocks and improved deal terms to help attract major energy companies. In January, the country signed 15 new exploration deals and amended two more, as well as clinching major tenders to import liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The oil ministry told Reuters this month that Egypt had three exploration and production agreements under way worth $9.2 billion. Rising consumption and falling production have turned Egypt from an energy exporter into a net importer, contributing to an energy shortage that causes regular power cuts.