* Aid helps cost of subsidies, drain on foreign exchange
* Looking to Russia, France or Algeria for gas import deal
* Fuel supply protest led to overthrow of former government
CAIRO, May 5 Gulf oil producers have given Egypt
a free fuel lifeling totalling $6 billion in value to help fend
off unrest on its streets in the summer when consumption soars,
the head of its national oil company said.
Tarek El-Molla, head of the Egyptian General Petroleum
Corporation (EGPC), told financial newspaper Al-Mal that the aid
consisted of "huge quantities" of benzene, diesel, heavy fuel
oil mazut, butane and crude oil, since last July.
The aid helps reduce the heavy costs of government fuel
subsidies and the drain on foreign exchange reserves.
It came after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
and Kuwait promised Egypt more than $12 billion in loans and
donations days after the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed
El-Molla said the Arab Gulf countries had agreed to rotate
management of the support, with the UAE in charge for the first
quarter of 2014 and Saudi Arabia taking over in the second
Aid in the form of refined oil products will continue until
at least September, Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian has said.
Last year, Saudi Arabia pledged $2 billion in energy
products with Kuwait and the UAE promising an additional $1
Fuel subsidies cost Egypt's government $15 billion a year, a
fifth of the state budget. The money keeps pump prices well
below market values, giving Egyptians no incentive to curb their
Egyptians rioted over long lines at gas pumps just before
Mursi's ousting following mass protests against his rule.
Foreign currency reserves reached $17.414 billion in March
but are still nearly half the level seen before the 2011
uprising against Hosni Mubarak as political turmoil has hit
tourism and foreign investment.
Egypt also requires liquefied natural gas (LNG) for power
generation, in short supply due to declining domestic gas
production, even as it cut into exports of LNG previously
promised to foreign firms.
El-Molla said EGPC was owed 110 billion Egyptian pounds
($15.7 billion) from other government entities, including 35
billion Egyptian pounds each from the finance and petroleum
He said the petroleum ministry had not yet signed an
agreement for gas imports but said it would select from among
Russian Gazprom, Gaz de France and Sonatrach of
He said EGPC was in negotiations with Royal Dutch Shell
and Apache Corp for new drilling projects
without providing further details.
($1 = 7.0076 Egyptian Pounds)
(Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; Writing by Shadia Nasralla and
Stephen Kalin, editing by William Hardy)