Opic has approved the provision of US$200mn in Opic political risk insurance for a project that will further develop 18 oil and gas concessions in Egypt over the next five years, significantly expanding the country’s energy infrastructure.

Houston-based Apache Corporation, the largest US investor in Egypt, will use the Opic insurance to support US$1.8bn of new investment during 2006-10, specifically for the exploration, development and production of oil and gas concessions in Egypt’s Western Desert region.

Among the concessions is the Qasr field: with more than 2tn cubic feet of gas and 50mn barrels of estimated recoverable reserves, it is the largest field ever found by Apache. The majority of the oil and gas produced by the concessions will be used for domestic consumption.

In addition to generating hundreds of permanent local jobs and substantial tax revenues for the Egyptian government, the project supports the construction of 200 schools for Egyptian girls in rural communities by an Apache-sponsored non-profit organisation, Springboard – Educating the Future.

The project is Opic’s second with Apache in the past two years. In April 2004, Opic’s board approved US$300mn in insurance to support Apache’s effort to help Egypt shift the emphasis of its energy production from oil to more environmentally-friendly natural gas.