On Wednesday in Cairo, Claudio Descalzi, the CEO of the Italian energy giant Eni, shook hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and celebrated the prosperity of relations in the last year. And on Thursday, the Milan-based Edison gas company signed a contract outlined last summer to explore and extract oil and gas along the Egyptian coast.
Almost a year after the death of Italian student Giulio Regeni, Italian officials are still discussing political reactions to the Egyptian refusal to provide answers. Ambassador to Cairo or not, other evidence shows Italy-Egypt relations have never really changed. Commercial ones, that is. On energy, nothing happened after Regeni’s death: In 2016, Eni invested $2.7 billion in Egypt, concentrated around the rich basin of Zohr, discovered a year and a half ago and able to overwhelm the energy plans of the countries of the region with a disruptive potential of 850 billion cubic meters of gas. And then there’s Nooros, an oilfield producing 25 million cubic meters of gas per day.
Not only that, in late December, Eni and Cairo signed two more concession agreements for the offshore sites North El Hammad and North Ras el Esh. The Italian company is confirmed as the first producers in Egypt (230,000 barrels per day over an area of 23,000 square kilometers, a $14 billion investment), a story that began in 1954.