Oil Minister Sherif Ismail said Egypt’s petroleum sector has no objections to importing crude oil from Iran, the state-owned daily Al-Ahram newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Ismail added that sanctions against Iran have hit revenues for the Sumed pipeline. The pipeline runs from the Gulf of Suez to the Mediterranean Sea, allowing crude oil to bypass the Suez Canal.
Once nuclear sanctions against Iran are lifted, the return of Iranian oil could help boost Sumed revenues and compensate for losses in recent years, Ismail reportedly said.
Any moves to support Iran’s oil industry could put Egypt at odds with Saudi Arabia, one of President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi’s most important financial backers. Iran and Saudi Arabia have been disputing oil prices and production levels for months.
With a glut of petroleum on the global market due to the surge of North American shale oil and gas production, oil prices have been falling since June 2014.
This has created tensions within OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, in which Saudi Arabia is the most influential member.
Despite concerns from Iran, Venezuela and other smaller OPEC members, Saudi Arabia has so far resisted calls to curb oil production to counteract lower prices.
In June, Saudi Arabia announced record-high oil production levels, although unconfirmed reports suggest the country may slightly reduce production after the summer.
Saudi Arabia, which has around US$680 billion in reserves, can weather a long stretch of low oil prices. Other states, including Iran, do not have enough of a financial cushion to absorb a drop in export revenues without financial strain.
Saudi Arabia’s intransigence in the face of falling profits and opposition from other OPEC members has led to speculation that it is keeping oil prices low in order to cripple Iran financially and limit the Islamic Republic’s financial and political influence in the Middle East.
In response, Iranian officials have said the plan is to pump an additional one million barrels per day of crude oil within months of the easing of Western sanctions. A deal signed this month in Vienna paves the way for these sanctions to be lifted.