CAIRO- Egypt and Cyprus have signed an agreement to build an underseas natural gas pipeline from the Aphrodite gas field in Cyprus to a liquefaction plant in Egypt from where it will be exported, Egypt's petroleum ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.
Cyprus doesn't have a gas liquefaction plant and the Aphrodite field, with an estimated 4 trillion cubic feet of gas, is not large enough to justify the cost of building one.
The agreement includes a framework for establishing a new gas pipeline between the two countries, spokesman Hamdi Abdelaziz said.
Abdelaziz quoted Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla as saying the project would help guarantee gas supplies to the European Union.
Molla said in May that the pipeline will cost between $800 million and $1 billion.
Egypt has ambitions of becoming a gas hub. The former gas exporter is hoping to halt imports by 2019 and achieve self-sufficiency.
The country rapidly increased its production of natural gas in 2017 with four major new gas production projects coming online, some ahead of schedule. Its newly discovered fields include the mammoth Zohr field discovered by Italy's in 2015.
Egypt has two liquefaction plants, both built in around 2004 after a series of major offshore gas discoveries in the 1990s near the Nile Delta.
One, at Idku near Alexandria, was built by British Gas, which was subsequently taken over by Shell. The other, near Damietta further east, is owned 80 percent by UFG, a joint venture between Spain’s Gas Natural and Eni.
Both have lain largely idle over the last decade after rapid growth in domestic demand, fueled by large government subsidies that kept the local price of natural gas low and a rapidly growing population.
(Reporting by Ahmed Ismail and Patrick Werr; writing by Amina Ismail, editing by Jason Neely and Elaine Hardcastle) ((email@example.com; +20 2 2394 8114;))