Egypt in Talks to Import Saudi Aramco Crude for Local Refining

(Bloomberg) -- Egypt is in talks with Saudi Arabian Oil Co. to import crude oil and refine it domestically, giving the North African country more control over its own gasoline and diesel supplies. 

A deal could be made early next year, Egypt’s Oil Minister Tarek El-Molla said Tuesday in an interview in Abu Dhabi. Saudi Arabia has been shipping about 700,000 metric tons a month of refined products to Egypt in one of the region’s largest bilateral trade deals for the supply of fuels. The amount of crude Egypt would import from Aramco hasn’t been decided yet, El-Molla said.

“Instead of shipping the products from Aramco, we could get the crude from Aramco and process it in our refineries in Egypt,” El-Molla said. “With the good business relationship that we have, we can develop new horizons and new types of contracts and deals” with Aramco.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, relies on imports to meet its energy needs. Saudi Aramco, as Saudi Arabia’s state oil company is known, halted fuel shipments to Egypt for about six months starting in October 2016, forcing Egypt to buy fuels on world markets at higher cost. The deal between the two nations was valued at about $23 billion. Shipments resumed in March.

Saudi Arabia exported about 1.5 million barrels a day of petroleum products in 2016, with about 16 percent of that going to Africa, according to data from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. About 2 percent of its crude oil exports went to Africa, the data show.

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