CAIRO, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Egypt is planning to import 80 cargoes of liquefied natural gas during the 2017-18 financial year that began in July, Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla told Reuters on Sunday, down from the 118 cargoes imported last year.
Egypt has been trying to speed up the development of recent gas discoveries with a view to halting imports by 2019.
"We were planning to import 154 cargoes of LNG in 2016-17 but we only imported 118 cargoes because of the increase in local gas production," Molla said.
Egypt expects to increase its LNG production by 1 billion cubic feet per day by the end of the current financial year to reach 6.2 billion cubic feet per day.
Gas production will get a big boost from Italian national oil company Eni's Zohr field, discovered in 2015 with an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas in place.
That field is expected to come into production at the end of 2017 and will save Egypt billions of dollars in hard currency that would otherwise be spent on imports.
(Reporting by Abdel Rahman Adel; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Greg Mahlich) ((email@example.com; +20 2 2394 8102; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))