Tamer Abu Bakr, petroleum expert and head of energy division of the Federation of Industries, said the division supports the decision of Minister of Petroleum Sherif Ismail to postpone the second phase of the issuance of smart cards to manage the distribution of diesel and gasoline.
Al-Ahram reported that Abu Bakr said the priority at the current stage was tighter control of the black market and supervision to monitor the quantities that are pumped daily and to reduce wastage of energy subsidies, which amounted to LE120 billion in the state budget.
He said that it would have cost the state about LE600 million to issue smart cards for 5 million vehicles, and that there are several disadvantages to the project.
Minister of Petroleum Ismail announced earlier that the ministry will review the system of fuel distribution smart cards, which began under the former government of deposed President Mohamed Morsi in early June.
The first phase was meant to consist of distributing fuel from warehouses to 2800 supply stations all over Egypt via smart cards, to reduce the spillage of gasoline and diesel fuel into the black market. The second phase, that was slated to begin in July, has been postponed.
In his comments, Abu Bakr called upon the Ministry of Petroleum to replace gasoline 90 with gasoline 92, arguing that it simply take up space in fuel stations, and that it is hard to keep controls on it. He added that the difference in price between the two was minimal.
Abu Bakr stressed the importance of encouraging investment in the petroleum sector and the state payment of its dues in excess of $7 billion to foreign partners to stimulate the entry of new projects.
The petroleum minister announced on Sunday that nine international companies have submitted offers for oil and gas exploration projects in Upper Egypt.
He said that 20 areas are currently available for oil excavation in Egypt’s eastern and western deserts as well as the Red Sea region. The Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiaries are currently developing those areas to meet increasing demand, he added.