Egypt plans tender for gas imports, says minister

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Egypt plans to issue a tender to import gas in three to four weeks, and the shipments could start in the summer to help meet growing demand for the fuel, the oil minister said on Saturday.

Egypt, itself a gas producer and exporter, said in October it had agreed to import gas from Algeria and was in talks with Qatar for a similar deal.

Egypt has two liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants and a gas export pipeline, but industry sources say the government has diverted some gas contracted for export to the domestic market, which faced fuel shortages and power cuts in the summer.

"With regard to our government needs, whether for the electricity sector or for some government-owned factories, there will be a tender that we will launch," Petroleum Minister Osama Kamal told reporters.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of Arab oil ministers in Cairo, he said he expected a tender to be issued in "three to four weeks" and shipments could start in the summer.

"As for the private sector, those who have permission will come forward. They probably have accumulated needs from new factories," he said, adding that some firms may decide it would be better to switch to imported gas.

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