Russia says Egypt asks for help with gas supplies to Europe

MOSCOW — Egypt, struggling to meet domestic energy demand, has asked Russia to help it fulfill its gas supply contracts with Europe, Russia's energy minister was quoted as saying Saturday.

He also said Egypt had offered some Russian companies, including Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil and Novatek, opportunities in the North African country's offshore oil and gas sector.

"The gas, which they were supposed to ship [abroad] under a contract, may be left for domestic consumption, while we could fulfill the contract via a swap supply by Gazprom," Alexander Novak was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

The possibility of an increase in Russian gas supplies to Europe could draw a negative reaction from the European Union, which is trying to lessen its dependency on energy supplies from Russia. Europe relies on Russia for around a quarter of its natural gas needs.

Oil and gas production in Egypt has been in decline in recent years. January oil output fell 3 percent year-on-year, according to government data, while gas production fell 9 percent.

The Egyptian economy has been in crisis since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, with President Mohamed Morsy grappling with a weak economy and street protests.

The Russian energy minister was speaking after Morsy failed to secure a loan and grain supplies from Russia.

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