Suez-Mediterranean (SUMED) pipeline

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The Suez-Mediterranean pipeline, also known as Sumed pipeline, is an oil pipeline in Egypt, connecting the Gulf of Suez to the Mediterranean Sea. It functions as an important alternative route to the Suez Canal for transporting oil from the Gulf region to the Mediterranean and is considered a key infrastructure element in the Egyptian extractive industry.[1]

Operation

After the establishment in 1973 of the Arab Petroleum Pipeline Company/Sumed Company, a joint venture between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, the pipeline became operational in 1977.[2] The government of Egypt is the biggest shareholder (50 percent), followed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE (each 15 percent), and Qatar (5 percent).[3]

Capacity

The pipeline runs from the Ain Sukhna terminal on the Gulf of Suez to the offshore terminal Sidi Kerir, near Alexandria, on the Mediterranean Sea.[4] It consists of two parallel pipelines with a total length of 320 kilometres and a capacity of 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd). According to the EIA country analysis, an average volume of 1.7 million barrels (bpd) of crude oil flowed through the pipeline in 2011, making up over 3 percent of the annual seaborne crude oil traded.[5]

As a world bank report stated, there is a storage capacity of up to 24 million barrels at both ends of the the pipeline.[6]

Strategic value

The Sumed pipeline is of great strategic importance.[7] It provides an alternative transit route to the Suez Canal and is in particular used to transport those cargoes which are too large to be shipped through the Canal.[8] Both the Suez Canal and the Sumed pipeline are also said to shorten the time for oil to get to its designated markets by 12 days, as tankers don't have to ship around the southern tip of Africa and are therefore saving approximately 9,500 kilometers.[9]

According to analyst Erik N. Stavseth, disruptions in the pipeline with it's large capacity might even have a bigger impact on oil markets than a closure of the canal.[10] Furthermore, as an Egyptian petroleum official claimed, the Sumed pipeline might provide an alternative means of transport for oil, if Iran were to close down its Strait of Hormuz.[11]

References

  1. "EIA Country Profile" US Energy Information Administration, retrieved 5 March 2013.
  2. "Egypt to set up oil storage firm next year" KhaleejTimes, 8 May 2008.
  3. "Cross-Border Oil and Gas Pipelines: Problems and Prospects" Joint UNDP/World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP), June 2003.
  4. "Ain Sukhna Terminal" World Port Source, retrieved 5 March 2013
  5. "EIA Country Profile" US Energy Information Administration, retrieved 5 March 2013.
  6. "Cross-Border Oil and Gas Pipelines: Problems and Prospects" Joint UNDP/World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP), June 2003.
  7. "Egypt Production Report" Egypt Oil&Gas Webportal, retrieved 5 March 2013.
  8. "EIA Country Profile" US Energy Information Administration, retrieved 5 March 2013.
  9. "Suez Oil Shipping", 'Reuters, 10 February 2011.
  10. "Egypt's Military Deploys Along SuMed Oil Pipeline, Official Says" Bloomberg, 1 February 2011.
  11. "Egypt pipeline may be alternative to Iran's Hormuz", Egypt Independent, 22 February 2012.