Egypt country overview

The economy of Egypt

Geography, People, Culture, and Economic Profile

Egypt information index

The resources of Egypt

Egypt has limited mineral resources considering its physical size and population. The search for petroleum began earlier in Egypt compared to other Middle Eastern countries, with small-scale production starting in 1908. However, significant results were not achieved until the mid-1970s, particularly in the Gulf of Suez and parts of the Western Desert. By the early 1980s, Egypt had become an important oil producer, although its total production was relatively small compared to other Middle Eastern countries.

The majority of Egypt’s petroleum comes from the Morgan, Ramadan, and July fields in the Gulf of Suez, operated by the Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company (Gupco). Oil is also extracted from the Abū Rudays area of the Sinai on the Gulf of Suez, as well as fields at Al-ʿAlamayn and Razzāq in the Western Desert. Active drilling for oil, involving international interests including the United States and several European countries, has continued in both the Eastern and Western deserts, with significant success in the 1990s and early 21st century.

During the search for oil, substantial natural gas deposits have also been discovered, including deposits in the delta, Western Desert, and offshore under the Mediterranean Sea. Wells have been established in the Abū Qīr area northeast of Alexandria. In 1970, a joint Egyptian-Italian gas discovery was made in the north delta near Abū Māḍī, which was developed to supply a fertilizer plant and fuel industrial centers in the north and northwest delta. Abū Māḍī became the first Egyptian gas field to begin production in 1974. Other natural gas fields are located in the Western Desert, delta, Mediterranean shelf, and Gulf of Suez. By the early 21st century, natural gas production had started to rival oil production, both for domestic consumption and export.

Egypt has several oil refineries, with two located at Suez. The first crude pipeline, known as Sumed, was opened in 1977, linking the Gulf of Suez to the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria. The Sumed pipeline has a capacity to transmit 2.5 million barrels of oil per day and was financed by a consortium of Arab countries, primarily Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt. In 1981, a crude oil pipeline was opened to link Raʾs Shukhayr on the Red Sea coast with the refinery at Musṭurud, north of Cairo. Additional oil pipelines connect Musṭurud with Alexandria and fields near Hurghada to terminals on the Red Sea.

Egypt’s major phosphate deposits are mined at Isnā, Ḥamrāwayn, and Safājah. Coal deposits are found in the partially developed Maghārah mines in the Sinai Peninsula. Manganese production primarily comes from mines in the Eastern Desert since 1967, with reserves also present in the Sinai Peninsula. Iron ore is extracted from deposits in Aswān, and development work continues at Al-Baḥriyyah Oasis. Chromium, uranium, and gold deposits are also present in the country.

The Nile River is an invaluable source of hydroelectric energy. Prior to the completion of the Aswān High Dam power station in 1970, hydropower only generated a small portion of Egypt’s electricity, with thermal plants burning diesel fuel or coal being the main producers. After the High Dam station became operational, most of the country’s electricity was generated there. The original 12 turbines have a capacity of about 2 million kilowatts, and the Aswān II hydroelectric power station, completed in 1986, added another 270,000 kilowatts of capacity. However, power production from the High Dam has been limited due to the need to balance power and irrigation water demands. Additionally, Egypt’s growing population and energy needs have led to the construction of additional thermal plants, many fueled by the country’s abundant natural gas reserves. Currently, thermal plants generate approximately 80% of the country’s electricity.

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