The agreement was signed with two state-owned firms, Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company. The long-term gas sales agreement covers gas produced from the company’s North Idku concession.

The agreement paves the way for the development of the offshore field, which is due to start producing gas in 2010.

Development and production work will be carried out by the Suez Oil Company, a joint venture of RWE and the state-owned EGPC.

The gas agreement follows a successful exploration campaign, in which discoveries were made from four out of five wells.

Development will concentrate on the part of the block nearest to the shore. Gas will be piped to existing onshore processing facilities in the nearby Abu Qir Bay.

RWE is the only equity shareholder in the block after its acquisition of a 30 per cent stake from its former partner, London-based Perenco Eastern Mediterranean.