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EC continues gas diplomacy push with Egyptian LNG cooperation talks


Egypt 'key partner' for Europe: Commissioner

Ten cargoes already delivered to Europe, Turkey in Q1

Egyptian LNG facilities at 'full capacity': Molla

  • Author
  • Stuart Elliott
  • Editor
  • Daniel Lalor
  • Commodity
  • LNG Natural Gas

The EU's energy commissioner Kadri Simson on Feb. 17 continued her diplomatic efforts to secure additional gas deliveries from key suppliers, holding talks on gas cooperation with Egypt's energy minister Tarek el-Molla.

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Writing on Twitter, Simson said she discussed with Molla energy cooperation opportunities, including "in the short- and medium-term on LNG".

"Egypt is a key partner for the EU," she said.

Concerns over Russian gas supply to Europe have seen the EC make significant efforts in recent weeks to seek alternative suppliers amid the standoff between Moscow and the West over Ukraine.

This month Simson has already held talks with LNG powerhouses Qatar and the US, as well as with Azerbaijan -- supplier to the Southern Gas Corridor -- while Japan has also pledged to offer Europe surplus LNG cargoes.

In addition, EC executive vice president Margrethe Vestager met with Nigerian vice president Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja Feb. 14, with both parties agreeing to consider "all options" for increased supply of LNG from Nigeria to the EU.

EC President Ursula von der Leyen said Feb. 16 the EC was in talks with a number of countries "that are ready to step up their exports of LNG to the EU".

'Full capacity'

Egypt has two LNG export facilities -- the 7.2 million mt/year Shell-operated Idku facility and the smaller Eni-operated 5 million mt/year Damietta plant.

Both are operating at "full capacity" and making the most of sustained high spot LNG prices, Molla said Feb. 10.

That, he said in a ministry statement, had led to a "high volume of LNG exports".

The S&P Global Platts benchmark JKM price for spot LNG into northeast Asia reached a record high $56.33/MMBtu last October, with prices remaining volatile through the winter. The JKM was assessed at $24.30/MMBtu on Feb. 17.

Egypt is relatively exposed to spot LNG prices, so the current price strength is beneficial to the country, whose LNG exports totaled 9.2 Bcm in 2021, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics data.

European pivot

Sustained European gas price strength has also seen exports of Egyptian LNG turn toward Europe so far this year away from more traditional markets in Asia.

According to Platts Analytics, Egyptian LNG exports that have reached their destinations so far in Q1 have totaled more than 1.3 Bcm of gas equivalent.

Of that, more than 1 Bcm went to terminals in Turkey, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

In Q4 2021, more than 1.2 Bcm was exported to Turkey and European buyers, which also include Belgium, Croatia, Greece, Lithuania, and Spain.

Before then, China was the biggest buyer of Egyptian LNG, with other Asian markets such as Bangladesh, South Korea, India, and Pakistan also taking significant volumes through 2021.

Egypt became an importer of LNG in 2015 to meet a growing supply-demand gap caused by a major slowdown in domestic gas development, having also halted exports.

However, with the discovery of the supergiant Zohr field, Egypt returned to having a gas surplus, with LNG exports resuming from Idku in earnest in late 2018 and from Damietta in February 2021.