CAIRO, June 20 (UPI) -- British energy company BP said Monday it was putting a deepwater natural gas project in Egypt on the fast track to development.
BP and its regional partner, the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co., sanctioned a fast-track scheme to bring 300 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to the domestic Egyptian market from the deepwater Atoll development by the first half of 2018.
"BP is proud to progress the acceleration of the Atoll project which will bring critical gas to the Egyptian market," BP Regional President Hesham Mekawi said in a statement.
BP at one time produced almost 40 percent of the oil in Egypt through its regional partnerships and nearly 30 percent of total natural gas production. It has a 100 percent stake in the Atoll concession.
As regional economies struggle under the strains of lower oil prices, the International Monetary Fund has said the discovery of natural gas off the Egyptian coast should help ensure positive economic growth.
BP made the Atoll discovery in March 2015. The company said the fast-track development could establish the East Nile Delta as an emerging energy hub for Egypt. A West Nile Delta project involves the development of 5 trillion cubic feet of potential reserves. Full-scale production, expected to begin in 2017, is expected to be around 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day, which represents about a quarter of the country's total.
IMF economists said earlier this year that Egypt was addressing some budget deficit issues, though efforts have yet to meet government objectives. Egypt, the IMF said, still faces economic headwinds despite recent developments.