Egypt Opens Tender to Import Fuel in July-Sept 2014

Source: Reuters 5/31/2014, Location: Africa

Egypt has launched a tender to import hundreds of thousands of tonnes of petroleum products in the third quarter of 2014, an energy official said, as the country tries to stave off a summer energy crisis.

Egypt's government wants to avoid major power blackouts during the months of increased consumption in the summer, when outages are worsened by a dilapidated grid and a wasteful subsidies system.

The tender comes in addition to supplies from Saudi Arabia, which will deliver energy products to Egypt in July and August as part of an aid package announced after the Egyptian army overthrew Egypt's first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohamed Mursi.

An official from the Egyptian General Petroleum Corp (EGPC) told Reuters that Egypt launched a tender on Thursday to import 90,000 tonnes of diesel each in July and August, and 120,000 tonnes of gasoline and 500,000 tonnes of diesel in September.

The tender would remain open until the first week of June, the official said, declining to be named. Saudi Arabia would give Egypt about 240,000 tonnes of gasoline and 850,000 tonnes of diesel in July and August "as a gift", he said.

The country has enjoyed strong support from Gulf Arab states since the army deposed Mursi last year, whose Muslim Brotherhood organisation they regard as a potent security threat to the wider region and themselves.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) pledged more than $12 billion in loans and donations. The head of the EGPC told Reuters in May that Egypt would receive about $650 million to $700 million worth of petroleum aid per month in August, totalling to more than $3 billion from April to August.

Power cuts and long queues at petrol stations contributed to widespread discontent with Mursi and sparked mass protests against his rule before he was ousted in July by the then army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Sisi then stepped down from his post in the army and stood in last week's presidential elections, winning with over 90 percent of the vote. But his landslide win has been undermined by a low turnout, partly caused by an Islamist call for a boycott of the poll.

Raising energy prices could cause more unrest in a country where street protests helped bring down two presidents in three years, but analysts say failing to reform the system will inhibit economic growth.

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