Min. of Petroleum assures benzene prices will not be raised
Minister of Petroleum Sherif Ismail - YOUM7/Hossam Atef
By HANAN FAYED

CAIRO: Benzene prices will not be raised, Ministry of Petroleum Spokesperson Hamdy Abdul Aziz told ONtv Tuesday, after the Cabinet announced it would be increasing natural gas prices.

The Cabinet’s decision, issued on April 20 at the recommendation of the Minister of Industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, applies to natural gas used in homes and commercial activities. The price increase will help save anywhere from 800 million EGP to one billion EGP yearly, which the government would use to connect natural gas to more locations, Abdul Aziz said.

The government is planning to pump funds into natural gas projects in cooperation with the Ministry of Petroleum and the Ministry of Electricity to fill the energy gap that is impacting citizens, Abdul Aziz added.

The decision to increase gas prices is part of the government’s strategy to reduce subsidies directed at petroleum products, Abdel Mottalib Abdel Hamid, the former head of Sadat Academy for Management Sciences, told The Cairo Post Tuesday.

As part of the government’s attempts to resolve the energy crisis, the Cabinet decided to allow coal to be used as part of the energy system on April 2, in “full adherence with environmental standards.” It also decided to increase penalties for those who violate such regulations. The decision was issued despite Minister of Environment Laila Iskander’s opposition.

A lack of fuel is the main problem in the industry and leads to the rejection of major draft projects because of the significant energy supplies they require, Abdel Nour said at a panel discussion on April 16.

Coal would mainly be used in fertilizer factories, saving 450 cubic feet of natural gas daily, which would be available for use in other outlets, according to Abdel Nour.

Frequent power cuts are another problem facing Egypt due to the lack of fuel operating power grids. The financial problem of procuring fuel affects all sectors, Electricity Mohamed Shaker told the CBC channel April 2.

The renewable energy department of the ministry is drafting a comprehensive report on the best locations to generate electricity from solar and wind power, Shaker told Al Bawaba on March 16, because the energy crisis in Egypt “will not be radically solved without other natural resources.”

Additional reporting by Ahmed Abu Shady.

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