Egypt: New Projects to Increase Sugar, Gas Production

Egypt: New Projects to Increase Sugar, Gas Production

Monday, 5 February, 2018 - 14:15
Locals gather to buy subsidized sugar from a government truck after a sugar shortage in retail stores across the country in Cairo, Egypt, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat
Egypt’s oil and gas industry has enjoyed a very successful year in 2017 and the country's natural gas production increased to around 1.6 billion standard cubic feet (scf) per day, said Minister of Petroleum Tarek El-Molla on Sunday.

The increase in production was a result of the production from Zohr, Nooros, Taurus, Libra, and Atoll gas fields, Molla announced during a press conference. He added that Egypt’s total natural gas production has reached the 5.5 billion scf/day mark in 2017, and it is expected to reach 6 billion before the end of 2018.

The minister indicated that all the natural gas production is currently allocated for domestic use, as Egypt still imports liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The offshore Zohr field, discovered by Italian energy firm Eni in 2015 and considered the largest in the Mediterranean, is expected to add 30 trillion scf/day which will help the country stop LNG import as of 2019.

BNP Paribas expects the country's gas production to reach its peak in 2021 and then decline, and that the country will not be able to continue exporting gas after 2022 as domestic consumption grows, which will maintain an average 4 percent annual increase on the medium term.

In other news, world’s largest port-based sugar refinery al-Khaleej Sugar Refinery announced it had signed a deal with the Egyptian government to invest in a sugar processing plant.

Managing director of the refinery, Jamal al-Ghurair told an industry conference in Dubai that the project, named Canal Sugar, will be located only about 200km from its market. He added that al-Ahly Capital Holding will be the key financial partner for the project.

“The sugar industry in the world is suffering a lot this year from oversupply, from a paradigm shift from cane to beet," said Ghurair.

Ghurair said the global sugar market was oversupplied and that sugar margins had to improve by moving production closer to markets.

"Time has come when we have realized that the sugar market has to change from being produced in one portion of the world, shipped across the oceans to be consumed in another part of the world," Ghurair indicated.

Egypt's Investment Minister Sahar Nasr said the project, with a cost of around $1 billion, would produce 900,000 tonnes of sugar annually, filling a supply gap in the market.

The project’s chief executive, Islam Salem, told the conference the project will extend over 77,000 hectares and will be farmed with wheat and beet in winter, and corn in summer.

Egypt expects to produce about 1 million tonnes of sugar from cane during this season, which runs from January through May. The country also produces about 1.3 million tonnes of sugar from sugar beet each year and consumes about 3 million tonnes annually. It covers the deficit with imports of both the private and public sectors.

"The mill is expected to start production in mid-2020 with full capacity reached in February 2021," Salem told the attendees, adding: "that will make us the largest globally with a daily production capacity of 36,000 tonnes."
The facility will also have the capacity to refine raw sugar, up to 900,000 tonnes, in the off-beet season.

The project obtained its agricultural land in Minya under a 60 year long term lease deal while al-Ghurair is the major investor in the project.

Al-Khaleej Sugar produced 1.8 million tons in 2017 and it exports most of its refined sugar production to Iraq, but that Iraqi market is producing most of its refined sugar domestically after Ettehad Refinery began producing in Babylon in 2015.

Egypt's Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, Ali al-Moselhi announced that the country's sugar reserve is enough till mid-May. He also noted that Egypt had increased the farmers' purchase price of cane sugar from E£620 to E£720.

Egypt is to issue dollar-denominated Eurobonds worth $4 billion to $5 billion within days, Finance Minister Amr el-Garhy told Reuters on Sunday.

In January, Egypt sold $4 billion in international bonds on three tranches. In April, the government agreed to increase the ceiling on international bond issuance to $7 billion and Egypt sold another $3 billion in bonds in May 2017.

The country's foreign debts increased about 41.6 percent to 79 billion dollars during the 2016-17 fiscal year ending in June 2017, compared with 55.8 billion dollars a year earlier.

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