Egypt has against presented itself to the world as a regional natural gas export hub, vowing to provide facilitations to mitigate the effect of the European crisis caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said his country is willing to provide the required facilitations to transfer gas from the Middle East to Europe, citing an agreement signed between Cairo and the European Union.
Speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Monday, he stressed that Cairo is prepared to lay the foundations for a strong partnership with Germany in the field of energy.
This can be achieved through either exporting natural gas to Berlin and the EU or establishing an extended partnership with Germany, in line with Egypt’s ambitious vision to transform into a hub for producing and exporting clean energy, especially green hydrogen and solar and wind energy.
Sisi pointed out that his country preempted the crisis by establishing the Cairo-based Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum to develop the region’s gas market and benefit from the available facilitations and potentials in Egypt to transfer gas to consumers.
In 2018, Egypt introduced an initiative to establish the forum as a platform for structured policy dialogue on natural gas.
During the tripartite summit held in Crete in October that year, leaders of Egypt, Cyprus and Greece declared their intention to establish the forum.
In March 2021, the forum’s charter entered into force with Israel, Italy, Jordan and Palestine joining as members. France joined later, and the United States and the EU joined as observers.
In mid-June, Egypt, Israel and the EU signed a memorandum of understanding to boost gas exports to Europe.
Director and founder of European North African Center for Research Sara Kira said Europe hadn’t developed a neighborhood policy with Mediterranean countries since 2011.
However, she pointed out that Egypt was able to reach out to European countries to achieve common interests.
She told Asharq Al-Awsat that Cairo introduced itself as a major political and economic player that is capable of resolving the European countries’ crises.
This helps increase its political and economic clout, and accordingly help address its regional issues in the future, she remarked.
Egypt is seeking to transform into a regional gas trade hub in the Mediterranean by taking advantage of its liquefaction stations, through which it can import explored gas in the eastern Mediterranean to liquefy and re-export, namely Europe, the country’s state information service said.
It seeks to achieve self-sufficiency in domestic supplies and attracting raw gas discovered in Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon and other regional countries, liquefying it in its stations and then exporting it.
Kira said Cairo has been working to become an energy hub for Europe as part of its efforts to localize technology and achieve development in the future.
“Egypt’s current policy towards Europe helps achieve bilateral interests as Europe can no longer rely on one source to meets its energy needs,” she explained.