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Egypt Hopes to Secure More LNG from Qatar

Source: Reuters 10/22/2013, Location: Africa

Egypt hopes that political tensions with natural gas giant Qatar will not undermine efforts to secure supplies from the Gulf state, but sees Algeria and Yemen as other options, a top state oil executive said.

Tarek El Molla, chairman of state-run Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), recognised the importance of keeping channels open with Qatar.

"Let us say they are among the biggest LNG suppliers in the world, (but) we have still possibilities with Algeria, Yemen, with other countries," he told Reuters in an interview.

Doha agreed in May to donate five cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and initial talks were held for Egypt to buy at least 13 more.

But Cairo's relations with Qatar deteriorated after the Egyptian army deposed President Mohamed Mursi on July 3. Qatar had been a firm backer of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood and lent or gave Egypt $7.5 billion during the year he was in power.

Negotiations over additional cargoes have not resumed. A Qatari industry source said last month the Egyptian army must ease pressure on Brotherhood supporters before the two countries can resume talks on more fuel.

"But we haven't closed the door...We'll get back on the phone with them. We are professionals here, it's pure business."

LNG producer Egypt has curbed its exports in recent years due to supply shortages and growing domestic needs.

State-owned Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) issued a tender this month for a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) which it hopes to use by next April.

Molla said the terminal and LNG imports were needed to avoid an energy crunch next summer.

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