Industry and petroleum ministries squabble over gas shares

The Ministry of Trade and Industry is criticizing the Ministry of Petroleum for using extra gas shares that were appropriated for industry in 2009 without first consulting the Supreme Energy Council.

Amr Asal, the head of the Industrial Development Authority, said the petroleum ministry had taken unilateral actions concerning the use of 1.1 billion cubic feet of extra gas shares for a number of projects without consulting the authority.

Asal described the use of the gas as illegal, and said it breaches the Energy Council’s April 2007 ruling that stipulates that no gas deals for heavy-consumption industries should be signed before referring to the council.

According to data from the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company, the basic share of gas for the Ministry of Industry for the last year was approximately 12.1 billion cubic feet, though an extra quantity of 1.1 billion cubic feet was added.

The two ministries have been in disagreement after the Energy Council approved cuts in the gas share to accomadate a new sodium carbons plant in Sinai. The decision was rejected by the industry ministry, which said that the change in allocation would deprive dozens of factories of necessary energy.

An official from the Ministry of Industry said that they explained the threat in a letter to the Energy Council. He said that the decision to cut the ministry’s share contradicts the council’s policy of giving the priority to heavy-labor, rather than heavy-consumption, industries.

The official added that the industry ministry asked the petroleum ministry for a detailed review of the quantity of gas consumed by companies over two years in order to determine the amount granted to heavy-consumption industries.

Tareq el-Hadidi, assistant petroleum minister for gas affairs, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that industry uses only 25 percent of the assigned quantity, which prompted them to shift the remaining amount to the local market.

The industry ministry official asked for imposing rules to regulate the distribution of additional amounts in a way that suits both ministries and ensures equity.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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