CAIRO, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A one-year delay in a natural gas development in Egypt, led by BP, could create an energy crisis in the country, an executive at a state-owned gas company said.
Natural gas from the offshore Idku project was expected to boost the Egyptian gas sector by 22 percent. Frustration expressed by local residents over environmental issues, however, is delaying the project.
Raafat al-Beltagy, vice chairman at state-owned Egyptian National Gas Holding Co., said gas for the country's electricity needs was expected by 2014 but now faces a one-year delay.
"Electricity consumption is growing by 7 percent every year," he told the Egypt Independent newspaper. "We will enter into a crisis if the project does not go ahead."
He claims an environmental impact assessment clears the way for Idku development but local residents said they've never seen the document.
Beltagy said the government signed off on the BP-led project but the public continues to object.
An agreement was signed last year with former Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy, who is under investigation on corruption charges. The Egyptian newspaper notes the project was the largest for BP since the April 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The offshore project was expected to begin producing around 3.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas starting in 2014.