Saudi Aramco to resume oil shipments to Egypt

Cairo and Riyadh continue to deny that rising tensions caused the halt in oil shipments, which are due to resume ‘very shortly’.

Saudi Arabia’s state oil company Aramco will resume shipping oil products to Egypt some six months after suddenly bringing them to a halt, Egypt’s Petroleum Ministry said on Wednesday.

The move will mark a thaw in relations between Cairo and Riyadh, which had become strained in the last year.

The ministry issued a statement saying it was working with the oil firm on a timetable for shipments to resume.

“It was agreed that the Saudi Arabian side would resume Aramco’s shipping of oil products as per the commercial contract signed between the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation and Aramco,” the statement said.

It added that the October cut-off was due to purely commercial reasons.

“Very shortly we will finalise the time and place for receiving shipments from Aramco,” a ministry official told Reuters.

Oil products from Saudi Arabia ceased to arrive in Egypt in October, despite an April agreement in which the Saudis pledged to provide Egypt with 700,000 tonnes of refined oil products a month for five years.

At the time, Aramco did not provide an official reason for the halt.

“According to Aramco, the postponement of shipments was due to commercial conditions on its part amidst changes in global oil market prices and Saudi Arabia’s reduced oil production levels, as well as routine maintenance to refineries,” the Petroleum Ministry’s statement said.

Despite both sides denying the existence of tensions between Cairo and Riyadh, the two countries have been at odds over regional issues.

In October, Egypt voted in favour of a UN resolution backed by Russia but opposed by Saudi Arabia, which excluded calls to stop bombing Aleppo.

Tensions between the two states also rose over the sale of two Egyptian islands to the oil-rich state, which was agreed in a deal last year.

In January, however, an Egyptian court rejected the plan.