Egypt formally retook full control of the Sinai desert oil fields at Abu Rudeis on Wednesday (3 December), more than eight years since the region was captured by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict.
LV & SV Storage tanks and pipes (3 shots)
SV & LV UN troops and observation post
CU PAN Governor-General El Karamani (spectacles) walking forwards to embrace Oil Minister Hilal
SV Troops walking forward to present flag to Governor who kisses it before walking to flagpole and raising flag
SV Crowd cheering
SV Governor speaking in Arabic
SV Arab citizens of Sinai applauding
SV ZOOM IN TO CU Egyptian and Italian oil company representatives signing agreement, watched by Governor (2 shots)
CU Minister Hilal speaking to newsmen in English
GV & SV Minister Hilal, Governor and officials touring Balaim installations (2 shots)
GV Ship at sea
CU Hilal in radio communication with ship
GV Ship at sea
HITAL: "The occasion is so great thanks to the wisdom of our President, the courage of our soldiers, and to the sincerity, fidelity and patience of our people. We are going to take care of this oil field. We are going to develop the area here, to look for oil in it, because we feel really that the takeover is really a primary step to really go deep into the matter. We are going to study the reservoir, engineering problems. We are going to study how much oil was taken from this oilfield to confirm it, and after that we are going to go ahead with the development further in this area."
The Sinai desert oilfields of Abu Rudeis -- captured by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict -- were formally returned to Egyptian control on Wednesday. The fields have provided most of Israel's local oil supplies since their capture eight years ago ... and their loss will have a considerable effect on the country's import bills.
Israel troops and technicians handed over the fields to United Nations forces last weekend, under the latest agreement with Egypt. For the formal takeover, Sinai Governor-General Mr. Abdul Moneim El Karamani welcomed Egypt's Oil Minister, Mr. Ahmed Ezzeddin Hilal, to the oil town.
The highlight of an emotional ceremony was the symbolic hoisting of the Egyptian flag over the site. The loss of Abu Rudeis eight years ago proved a crippling blow for Egypt. The fields then provided about seventy per cent of the country's oil needs. Their return -- coming shortly after the handover of the smaller northern fields of Ras Sudar -- means that Egypt will once again become a net exporter of oil. Plans are already underway to extend the fields' development.
The Governor-General, Mr. Karamani then addressed waiting crowds on the significance of the occasion. The successful handover of Abu Rudeis has served to counter internal criticism over Egypt's latest accord with Israel. Egypt's also taken back control of a long strip of land along the Suez Gulf.
Hard on the heels of the ceremonial takeover came the signing of an agreement between Egypt and the Italian oil company, Agip, over supplies and technical assistance. Oil Minister Hilal then described Egypt's plans for future production and development:
In addition, Egypt's announced it'll ask Israel for two thousand million dollars for oil used since capture. Abu Rudeis' output's reported to be currently over seventy thousand barrels daily. The first two hundred barrels were shipped out on the tanker Morgan on Wednesday ... with Mr. Hilal's blessing. Production's estimated to top three hundred thousand barrels a day within coming months.
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Background: Egypt formally retook full control of the Sinai desert oil fields at Abu Rudeis on Wednesday (3 December), more than eight years since the region was captured by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict.
The formal takeover ceremony was attended by Sinai Governor-General Abdul Moneim El Karamani and Egyptian Oil Minister Ahmed Ezzeddin Hilal, who promised that Egypt would begin to develop the region further to increase oil production.
Israel relinquished control of the oilfields last weekend, handing the installations over to United Nations forces under the terms of the latest agreement with Egypt. Since their capture, the fields have provided Israel's major local source of oil, although for the past twelve months -- with the prospect of having to return possession to Egypt a virtual certainty -- little maintenance work has been done on pipes, storage tanks and other installations.
The return to Egyptian control was symbolised by the hoisting of the national flag at the oil site, swiftly followed by the signing of an agreement between Egypt and the Italian oil company Agip on crude supplies.
Speaking to newsmen, Oil Minister Hilal said that Egypt would now become an oil exporting country, and announced that his government would ask Israel for 2,000 million U.S. dollars worth (998 million pounds sterling) of compensation for exploitation of the Abu Rudeis reserves since 1967.
Since Egyptian technicians moved in on Monday (1 December), the oilfields have produced between 75,000 and 80,000 barrels each day. However some production estimates suggest that daily output could hit 300,000 barrels within a few months.
Italian oil experts reported that some 200,000 barrels were ready for the first Egyptian shipment from Abu Rudeis on Wednesday. The tanker, Morgan, sailed from the oil port to the Suez Town refinery ... after receiving the best wishes of Minister Hilal by radio telephone.
The smaller Sinai oilfields of Ras Sudar, north of Abu Rudeis, were restored to Egyptian control last month. The loss of both fields in 1967 represented a crippling blow to the Egyptian economy, depriving the country of 70 per cent of its oil supplies.
Film includes part of Mr. Hilal's speech to newsmen in English. A transcript follows: