News / Middle East

Energy-short Egypt Faces Long, Hot Summer

Mostafa Khaled, 20, studies by candlelight for his early morning exams during a power cut in Toukh, about 25 km northeast of Cairo, May 26, 2013.Mostafa Khaled, 20, studies by candlelight for his early morning exams during a power cut in Toukh, about 25 km northeast of Cairo, May 26, 2013.
x
Mostafa Khaled, 20, studies by candlelight for his early morning exams during a power cut in Toukh, about 25 km northeast of Cairo, May 26, 2013.
Mostafa Khaled, 20, studies by candlelight for his early morning exams during a power cut in Toukh, about 25 km northeast of Cairo, May 26, 2013.
Reuters
A gift of gas to Egypt from tiny Qatar shows just how tough this summer is shaping up to be for the government in Cairo, facing a funding crunch and power cuts as it struggles to contain explosive public discontent.
 
Daily blackouts have darkened homes and businesses across the country over the past few weeks, aggravated in recent days by an early summer heat wave that has Egyptians cranking up their air conditioners.
 
Qatar on Monday offered five cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG), worth perhaps $300 million, “as a gift to the Egyptian people during the summer months.”
 
It is a small gesture from a Gulf ally which has already lent Egypt some $7 billion in the past year but highlights how tough times are for the 84 million Egyptians.
 
Falling living standards since the 2011 revolt that ended six decades of military rule have led to disillusionment focused on Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. Opponents have called for mass protests on June 30, the first anniversary of Morsi's election.
 
The country's budget deficit has widened, the Egyptian pound has weakened, and investors have taken fright, sending the Cairo share index on Monday to its lowest close in more than 10 months.
 
A vicious circle of unrest and slumping tourism revenues have drained government cash reserves, leaving ministers scrambling for favors abroad, notably to maintain supplies of heavily subsidized fuel and bread that account for a quarter of all government spending.
 
“We will suffer this summer,” said Mohamed Shoeib, who until recently ran EGAS, the state natural gas company, and is now a managing director at private equity firm Citadel Capital.
 
“This will be the hardest and most difficult and darkest summer Egypt has ever seen,” he added.
 
Adding to worries about energy, the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan will begin around July 9, a time when tempers can fray as temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius and above.
 
Facing a fiscal crunch
 
Since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the authorities have run through more than half of Egypt's foreign reserves, or some $20 billion.

Youths jump into the sea to cool off on a hot day in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria May 24, 2013.Youths jump into the sea to cool off on a hot day in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria May 24, 2013.
x
Youths jump into the sea to cool off on a hot day in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria May 24, 2013.
Youths jump into the sea to cool off on a hot day in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria May 24, 2013.
They have also borrowed billions from abroad and delayed payments to oil companies and other suppliers.
 
Yet partly due to fuel subsidies, energy consumption remains high as the state grapples to pay for imports of fuel to generate electricity.
 
In April, Qatar and Libya extended loans worth $5 billion, and Libya said it would provide another $1.2 billion in credit to buy crude oil for Egypt at world prices.
 
But this will only plug a portion of the country's energy gap, and still leaves Egypt needing to find fuel on the international market, get it from ports to power plants, keep those plants running at near full capacity and deliver the electricity to consumers across a leaky power grid.
 
This is proving difficult, with rolling blackouts throughout the country, some for up to 10 hours at a time, which prompted protests in late May, and a heat wave in early June that pushed temperatures in Cairo to 45 degrees Celsius, only compounding the problem.
 
In some places, people blocked roads and railways to demand power - needed in many apartments to pump water.
 
In the ancient Pharaonic capital of Luxor, local governor Ezzat Saad told Reuters that power cuts blacked out major tourist sites last month, including the 3,400-year-old temple. He said he had appealed to Cairo to prevent such incidents.
 
Infrastructure issues
 
Last summer, during the hottest days, electricity consumption peaked at 27,000 megawatts (MW) and seems likely to do so again this year, pressing the power sector to its limits.
 
“In the summer, [during] Ramadan... on some days [demand] could rise to 29,000,” Aktham Abou-Elella, undersecretary of state at the Electricity Ministry, told Reuters.
 
“We can't operate at more than 86 percent of capacity - 27,000 is our ceiling. Anything above that, we for sure need to conserve energy.”
 
The government is hoping a public awareness campaign can help cut demand this summer.
 
“It could result in a reduction in consumption of 2,000 MW at least, especially setting air-conditioners at 25 degrees rather than 18 degrees and turning off unnecessary lights,” Abou-Elella said.
 
Mosques and government buildings will be urged to save electricity, he said, adding that the ministry had agreed with energy-intensive industries to smooth out peak loads.
 
Abou-Elella estimated that blackouts might last no more than an hour a day but hoped the government plans to manage demand would work.
 
“If all these attempts succeed, we should have an acceptable summer,” he said.

You May Like

Photogallery US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

NYC mayor says, 'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' yet blizzard warnings, travel bans remain for several East Coast states More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Nikos from: Greece
June 11, 2013 4:13 PM
Arabs have always flooded into vacuums left by other cultures... I see Alexandria... the Jewel of the Greek Empire... look what the arabs have done to it... filth and diseased Arabs

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid