FILE PHOTO: An oil pump jack can be seen in Cisco, Texas, August 23, 2015. Mike Stone/File Photo - REUTERS
CAIRO - 4 August 2022: The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources has started the expansion of the Hamra Petroleum Port in El-Alamein region, which is represented in a 120-feddan plot of land on the coastal area.
The new expansions of the port aim to increase the storage capacity by adding four storage tanks with a capacity of 630,000 barrels of crude each, to reach a storage capacity of 5.3 million barrels, according to a statement issued from the ministry Thursday.
This comes in addition to the 420-feddan plot of land adjacent to the Hamra port area, which will be used as an area for the circulation of petroleum products and a shipping station to serve the expansions of the El Alamein area.
“The port’s expansion plan aims to turn it into a strategic center on the Mediterranean coast for the circulation of crude and petroleum products,” Minister of Petroleum Tarek El Molla said.
Is it a gateway to Russian exports?
Hamra oil port occupies a privileged position on the coast of the Mediterranean, which may make it an alternative to Russian oil exports in light of the Western sanctions imposed on Moscow.
A shipment of about 700,000 barrels of Russian oil was delivered to Hamra port early on July 24,according to ship tracking data by Bloomberg.
“This unusual move has made tracking the final destination of shipments difficult, making the direction of Russian oil shipments increasingly opaque since European buyers began avoiding them after the country invaded Ukraine,” Bloomberg reported.
An EU ban on oil shipments from Moscow and on the provision of insurance and other shipping services is set to take effect at the end of this year, increasing pressure on Russia to identify and test different ways to get its shipments to buyers.
Moreover, the American "Oil Price" website said that Egypt now has a new route for Russian oil transit, which is the Hamra oil port on the Mediterranean coast, and considered that Egypt is seeking to turn the Hamra port into a "global center" for oil trading.
The American website said in a report that Russia discovered a new gateway for its crude oil, which is the Hamra oil port, referring to Bloomberg ship tracking data.
Capabilities and importance of Hamra Port
Hamra port has six storage tanks with a capacity of 1.5 million barrels, operated by the Egyptian Western Desert Petroleum, along with a one-buoy mooring facility for loading and unloading.
The Hamra port was set up to handle crude produced in Egypt's Western Desert, making it possible to blend Russian barrels with local oil.
According to Oil Price, while Russia is already using Egypt as a transit route for fuel oil, the port of Hamra could feature prominently in Russian oil flows.
Previously, tankers carrying Russian crude conducted ship-to-ship transfers in the mid-Atlantic or off the Spanish city of Ceuta in North Africa.