Egypt is an important non-OPEC energy producer. (OPEC is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.) Commercial quantities of oil were first found in 1908, and more petroleum was found in the late 1930s along the Gulf of Suez. Later, large oil fields were discovered in the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Suez, the Western Desert, and the Eastern Desert. The Abu Rudeis and Ra's Sudr oil fields in the Sinai, captured by Israel in 1967, were returned to Egyptian control in November 1975, and the remaining Sinai oil fields reverted to Egyptian control by the end of April 1982. Egypt's proven crude oil reserves were estimated at 2.9 billion barrels as of 1 January 2001. Oil production in 2000 averaged 710,000 barrels per day, down from 922,000 barrels per day in 1996. Domestic consumption was estimated at 585,000 barrels per day in 2000. The Suez Canal and 322-km (200-mi) Sumed Pipeline from the Gulf of Suez to the Mediterranean Sea are two routes for oil from the Persian Gulf, which makes Egypt a strategic point of interest in world energy markets. As of 2002, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) was planning to deepen the canal by about an additional 21 m (70 ft) to accommodate very large crude carriers (VLCCs).
The General Petroleum Authority, established in 1956 to supervise the oil industry, was converted as part of the nationalization program of the 1960s into the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC). As of 2002, production from most wells in the Gulf of Suez, operated mainly by Gupco (Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company), a joint venture of EGPC and British Petroleum (BP), was declining; these wells had mostly been in operation since the 1960s and 1970s. BP was planning to invest $450 million in technology that would prolong the producing life of these oil fields.
Major discoveries in the 1990s have given natural gas increasing importance as an energy source; by 2002 all of Egypt's oil-fired thermal power plants had been converted to natural gas. Recoverable reserves of natural gas were estimated at 1.6 trillion cu m (56 trillion cu ft) in September 2001, with probably reserves thought to be as large as 3.4 trillion cu m (120 trillion cu ft). Natural gas production in 1999 was estimated at 15.5 billion cu m (547 billion cu ft).
The Egyptian electric power system is almost entirely integrated, with thermal stations in Cairo and Alexandria and generators at Aswan. In 2000, output totaled 71.7 billion kWh, of which 77% was from fossil fuels and 23% was from hydropower (mostly from the Aswan High Dam). In the same year, consumption of electricity was 64.7 billion kWh. Total installed capacity was 17.7 million kW in 2001. Generators in the barrages (structures to divert the water) constructed downstream of the Aswan High Dam to reduce erosion supply electricity to rural communities.
A $239 million electricity network link with Jordan was completed in 1998. In late 2002 Egypt announced that it would coordinate a regional energy distribution center to coordinate energy distribution among the nations of the region, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco.