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Italian energy giant finds new gas field in Egyptian desert

Company announces new gas find as country is predicted to become a gas exporter once again as early as next year
The gas was discovered in Egypt's vast Western Desert (AFP)

Italian energy giant Eni has discovered a new gas field in Egypt amid hopes that the country is on its way to becoming a regional energy hub. 

The company announced the new find, discovered in the country's Western Desert, on Thursday, and said it was studying the reserves, along with others found nearby, to increase the country's gas production.

A decade ago, Egypt was a net exporter of gas, but years of political instability and mismanagement left it to import gas for its rising population starting in 2012.

But with new discoveries in recent years - including Eni's Zohr "superfield" find in July 2015 - the country has been predicted to become an exporter once again as early as next year.

In late June, Egypt's petroleum minister, Tarek El-Molla, said that the country might stop importing liquefied natural gas by the end of this year.

"The exports of Zohr gas field, as well as other gas fields' production, will start early next year," El-Molla said. "I don’t think there will be more tenders. I think this is it. Local production should cover our needs."

Egyptian Petroleum Ministry spokesperson Hamdy Abdel Aziz told news website Al-Masry Al-Youm that the latest Eni discovery confirmed that the desert area is promising for gas production.

A network to transport the gas has already been established, allowing the newly discovered gas to be easily transferred, he said.

Aziz also said the country is currently producing around 6 billion cubic feet per day, which would be a record high for recent years, according to BP energy statistics.