(Adds minister comments, context)
CAIRO May 10 Production at BP's North
Alexandria gas fields is expected to raise Egypt's natural gas
output to 5.1 billion cubic feet per day from about 4.45 billion
currently, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said on Wednesday.
Egypt has been looking to speed up gas production from
recently discovered fields, with an eye to halting imports by
2019. Once an energy exporter, it has become an importer after
domestic output failed to keep pace with rising demand in recent
The Taurus and Libra fields are currently producing 700
million standard cubic feet of gas a day for the Egyptian
national gas grid, BP said in a statement following their
official inauguration on Wednesday.
The fields are part of BP's West Nile Delta development,
which includes five offshore gas fields that are planned to have
a combined production of up to almost 1.5 billion cubic feet a
day (bcf/d) in 2019.
Speaking later to private television channel CBC, Molla said
he expects the first year of production at the fields to save
Egypt about $1 billion that would otherwise have been spent on
costly imports and about $1.8 billion per year after the fields
are further developed.
(Reporting by Abdel Rahman Adel and Ali Abdelaty; Writing by
Eric Knecht; Editing by David Goodman and Catherine Evans)