Egypt will launch a bidding round this year for exploration of largely unconventional blocks in the Red Sea, according to the chief executive of the state-owned Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation.
"Red Sea exploration will be part of a new bid round, which will be launched very soon. This year, definitely. It's ready but we'll launch after we announce award winners for the 2018 bid round," Abed Ezz El Regal told The National on the sidelines of the Egypt Petroleum Show in Cairo.
Egypt, North Africa’s largest economy, launched a licensing round in 2018 to explore for oil and gas in the Mediterranean and the Nile Delta. The Eastern Mediterranean has emerged as a hotspot for exploration and production activities with the discovery of large gas finds such as Zohr in 2016 by Italian energy major Eni.
Egypt, which had earlier been beset by power cuts leading to widespread protests has since ended its dependence on liquefied natural gas imports and aims to become a regional hub for gas.
Egypt’s Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla said on Monday that Zohr is expected to see increased production to more than 3 billion cubic feet per day this year. The country will also ramp up output from the North Alexandria West Nile Delta concessions operated by BP in April. Production is expected to reach 700 million cubic feet per day with the coming on stream of 400 million cubic feet per day, he said.
The ministry will award winners of the 2018 bid rounds on Tuesday, he added.