“We’ll do what it takes,” Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek el Molla said Wednesday in Ravenna, about the investigation into the murder of Giulio Regeni. He was speaking on the sidelines of the Offshore Mediterranean Conference. “[Egypt] will not give up until the case is solved.”
“The government maintains the strongest focus on the Regeni case,” he continued. “Great strides in collaboration between the Italian and Egyptian prosecution have been achieved. The Italian counterpart will visit Egypt in early April to finalize the delivery of the requested documents.” This is a reference to the 10 interviews to officials of various levels within the National Security apparatus, requested by the Italian prosecutor in a letter in mid-March.
These government statements show nothing new. But this time, the speaker is the representative of the Egyptian interests in the energy field, the man in contact with the international giants.
Starting from Eni, the Italian oil giant, the largest producer in Egypt, whose role has been further enhanced after the discovery of the submarine super oilfield at Zohr. And el Molla will make sure that relations with the six-legged dog will not suffer any damage because of the Regeni case.
He dispels doubts that did not exist: in spite of the discovery of Giulio’s tortured body and blatant false leads created by the State, the commercial relations between Italy and Egypt have not been scratched. Especially in the energy field.
El Molla met in Ravenna with Marc Benayoun, the CEO of the Italian company Edison. This company is exploring offshore fields in Abu Qir, in the Nile Delta, and it is building a new power plant that will use the basin gas, which has a production capacity of 13 million cubic meters of gas per day.
All this entails an investment of €100 million, plus the exploitation of 60 percent of the West Waidi el Rayan oilfields, 20 percent of the Rosetta oilfield and recently (with an agreement signed in January) the exploration of Northeast Habi, for another $86 billion.
On the other hand, on Tuesday President el-Sisi met in Cairo with the CEOs of Eni, BP and Rosneft, the three partner companies of the Zohr field. Descalzi has been meeting more frequently with him to cement a rapport of interest that Regeni’s case will not jeopardize.
Agenzia Nova reports that during the last meeting, Descalzi confirmed that drilling operations are underway and that production will begin by the end of 2017. A production that Eni estimates in 850 billion cubic meters of gas and which are part of a wealth large enough to make Egypt tip the energy balance in the region and the Mediterranean basin.
The oil minister knows it well. On behalf of al-Sisi’s coup government, he shakes hands and signs agreements rooted in impunity in a country which has set up a regime even more brutal than the previous dictatorship. “Egypt has the keys to the future of gas in the eastern Mediterranean,” said el Molla, recalling the role played by Egypt as hub for trade by sea from the Gulf, via Suez, in addition to the existence of infrastructure (“oil and gas plants, refineries, regasification and storage units”) that make it a natural regional energy hub.
This is a true gold mine for companies already present with various ramifications, starting from the Italian companies Eni and Edison: In 2016, the six-legged dog invested $2.7 billion in the North African country and signed in late December two more agreements for the offshore oil fields of North el Hammad and North Ras el Esh. With these deals, Eni confirms its position as the top producer in Egypt with 230,000 barrels per day and total investment of $14 billion.
A year and two months after Regeni’s death, without any truth, the words the then Prime Minister Renzi dedicated to President el-Sisi on the occasion of the General’s first official visit to an E.U. country sound fatidic: Egypt is “an amazing area of opportunity.” A business so explosive it overshadows the lives of the Egyptian people, stifled by hunger and repression.