WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The discovery of a major deposit of natural gas off the Egyptian coast should help ensure positive economic growth, the International Monetary Fund said.
Members of the IMF met in Cairo with Egyptian Central Bank Gov. Hisham Ramez, Finance Minister Hany Dimian and other representatives to discuss planned economic policies and developments.
The issuance of a $1.5 billion bond helped lead to 4.2 percent growth in the Egyptian economy. Chris Jarvis, head of mission for the IMF, said the major gas find made by Italian energy company Eni will help stimulate the Egyptian economy in the medium term.
Eni announced a discovery of gas in a deepwater prospect off the Egyptian coast last month. With an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place, it's the largest discovery made in regional waters and potentially the largest in the world.
Egypt signed an agreement with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co. to explore the field in January 2014. In March, Eni signed a framework agreement with the Egyptian government that called for up to $5 billion in total investments.
Before the start of the visit, IMF spokesperson William Murray said Eni's role will be a net gain for the Egyptian economy.
"Our view is that the discovery of a major gas deposit has the potential to improve Egypt's energy position and to contribute to its economy more broadly," he said.
Egypt is the largest oil producer in Africa that's not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the largest gas producer. It's also the largest oil and gas consumer in the region, leaving it struggling to support domestic demand.
Eni said the gas discovery off the Egyptian coast and recent cooperation with Cyprus could translate to European energy security.