President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi during the inauguration ceremony of the Zohr natural gas field on January 31, 2018 - video screenshot
CAIRO - 31 January 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi affirmed that he will never let anyone manipulate Egypt's security as long as he is alive, promising to preserve the country’s stability and security.
“We all need to understand the meaning of the state. I will never let anyone manipulate Egypt's security as long as I am alive,” Sisi said during the inauguration ceremony of the Zohr natural gas field on Wednesday in Port Said governorate.
Sisi listened to Italian- Eni Company's CEO Claudio Descalzi and Minister of Petroleum Tarek el Molla who talked about the project's details and cost in their speeches.
Sisi thanked Descalzi for his efforts to realize the project and described him as a “dear friend” of the country as he was keen to meet the deadlines and to fulfill all the demands and requirements of the project with the highest quality.
In his speech, Descalzi said that today is only the beginning. The gas field is expected to reach its production peak within 24 months. “I didn’t expect the project to be finished that fast; I was amazed by our Egyptian co-partner companies’ work and I can say that we were a very good team,” Descalzi added.
He said that his company understood President Sisi’s vision regarding accelerating the work in the Zohr gas field project as it would change the whole country.
The Minister of Petroleum Tarek el Molla explained the country’s economic situation during 2011-2013, saying that the state was witnessing a petroleum crisis for several reasons including the termination of international agreements with foreign partners to search for new wells.
He added that Egypt's debts to its foreign partners increased to $6.3 billion during this period (2011 to 2013); however, following that period of uncertainty, stability prevailed and the economic situation improved.
According to Molla, the costs of the Zohr project reached around $12 billion, and 200 companies participated in the project.
Egypt’s maritime borders
During the inauguration ceremony, President Sisi talked about Egypt’s maritime borders and the importance of signing borders agreements with other countries, including Cyprus, to search for oil and gas wells in the Red and Mediterranean seas.
“Before speaking about the countries agreements and future, we have to be informed and educated,” Sisi said. He added that before talking about maritime borders, it is necessary to have a proper understanding of the country’s needs; otherwise the country may risk losing a lot of money.
“I swear to god, what we are witnessing today won’t ever be done without stability. I can ask for the Egyptians' mandate again to combat terrorism, but I will not trouble them to do so,” Sisi added.
Signing maritime border agreements between countries will allow the authorities to search for oil and gas wells freely within these countries' borders. This was the main reason behind signing the maritime border agreements with Cyprus in 2004 and with Saudi Arabia in April 2016.
President Sisi also talked about the Egyptian-Italian relation saying that it is “strong and stable”. He renewed his vow to bring Italian student Giulio Regeni’s killers to trial and offered condolences to his family.
Earlier on Wednesday, President Sisi arrived at Port Said city, north of the Suez Canal, on the Mediterranean Sea, to witness the beginning of production of the giant gas field, Zohr.
Covering an area of 100 square meters with a depth of 1,450 meters, the field is one of the largest offshore gas fields, discovered in 2015 in Shorouq concession in the Mediterranean Sea by the Italian energy company Eni.
Investing around $10 billion in the project, Eni estimates a total output of approximately 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. The new field will help secure the energy needs of a country that consumes around six billion cubic feet of gas a day, with 65 percent of the total amount going to the electricity sector.
Zohr is expected to provide the Egyptian economy with a significant boost estimated at $2.5 billion annually. It started at a capacity of 350 million cubic feet per day, paving the state’s way to realize its ultimate goal of securing its energy needs and becoming self- sufficient.