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Egypt rationing gas use to sell more of it overseas

Shops and malls will have to limit their use of strong lights
Egypt rationing gas use to sell more of it overseas
Egypt's Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly

Egypt will soon begin to ration electricity used for street lights, sporting venues, and government buildings, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said. The goal, he said, is to leave more gas available for export – to countries suffering their own gas shortages – to generate foreign currency.

Egypt has suffered from an acute foreign currency shortage since Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, which pushed up global commodity prices, led to the collapse of tourism in the two countries, and drove up the cost of borrowing

Under the draft plan, shops and malls will have to limit their use of strong lights and keep their air conditioning at no cooler than 25 degrees Celsius.

Ministries and government facilities will have to turn off lighting at the end of working hours, the statement added. Street lighting will also be reduced.

The government last month postponed a planned increase in electricity prices by six months. The higher prices would have been intensely unpopular among a population that over the last few years has endured a series of harsh austerity measures.

On Tuesday, Egypt’s Prime Minister said the government hoped to reduce the amount of gas used to generate electricity by 15 percent. He said domestic power plants bought their natural gas at one-tenth the price that it could fetch on international markets.

Europe has been seeking alternative sources of gas to cut its reliance on Russian gas as the war in Ukraine escalates.

Rapid growth in Egypt’s natural gas supplies, boosted by the discovery of the Mediterranean’s largest field, turned it from a net importer to an exporter in late 2018.

Egypt exported 9.45 million cubic meters of liquid natural gas in the first seven months of 2022, up 44 percent from a year earlier, according to Refinitiv.