Egypt Dismisses Reports on Oil Minister’s Visit to Iran

Tarek El Molla

An Egyptian spokesman denied a recent report about the Egyptian Oil Minister’s visit to Iran for an oil agreement with Tehran.

Egypt’s Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla was reportedly on his way to Iran on Sunday to meet with senior officials and try to secure a new oil agreement, according to Reuters, which cites sources “close to his delegation” and another individual who allegedly accompanied the minister to Cairo International.

This was, however, denied by the ministry’s spokesperson Hamdy Abdel Aziz who told Al Masry Al Youm that El Molla left to attend a two-day energy summit in Abu Dhabi where he is expected to promote investment in the industry. The wire had framed the alleged Iran visit as part of the fallout of Aramco’s delay in October fuel shipments.

On that front, future fuel shipments from Saudi Aramco are still in question, but the agreement has not been cancelled, Abdel Aziz told the newspaper, as reported by Enterprise and covered by IFP.

Another source with whom Al Mal spoke claims it is unlikely that Aramco will deliver the shipment slated for November.

Abdel Aziz said the ministry has contracted sufficient gasoline and diesel shipments to meet domestic demand for November; the ministry should have locked in December supplies by the middle of this month, he said.

Reuters had claimed that El Molla has decided to sign a contract with Iran after Saudi Arabia suspended its oil agreement last month.

After that suspension, Egypt voted in favor of a Russian-backed UN resolution on Syria in October that excluded calls to stop bombing Aleppo, which Saudi Arabia strongly opposed.

Saudi Arabia has showered Egypt with billions of dollars in aid since 2013, when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted elected Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and banned the movement, which Riyadh opposes.

The Saudi deal was for 700,000 tonnes of oil products a month for five years under a $23 billion deal between Saudi Aramco and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) to be paid off over 15 years.

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