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Egypt Appoints New Chief of State Oil Firm

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Egypt's oil ministry Monday named Tarek El-Barkatawy chief executive of state-owned Egyptian General Petroleum Corp., or EGPC, at a time when the country is facing a severe fuel shortage and needs to negotiate favorable rates with oil producers. 

Mr. El-Barkatawy replaces Sherif Haddara, who was appointed oil minister in a cabinet reshuffle earlier this month. 

Mr. El-Barkatawy served as first under-secretary for agreements and exploration at the Egyptian oil ministry since December last year. He has 25 years of experience in the oil and gas sector, having worked for several international firms, the ministry said in a statement. 

Egypt is working to secure oil and gas supply deals on favorable credit terms from major Arab producers in an attempt to ease fuel shortages and a government cash crunch that have proved politically damaging for the country's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. 

The country has been facing a diesel shortage since last year, leading to rising food costs, long queues at filling stations and electricity blackouts. The fuel crisis has compounded broader economic problems in the country, which in 2011 overthrew the government of Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising, paving the way for the electoral victory of Mr. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. 

Egypt's government is short of funds and has been negotiating with the International Monetary Fund over a $4.8 billion loan, which analysts and investors say is critical for the country. IMF officials left Cairo last month without agreeing on the terms of the loan. 

EGPC has been paying hefty premiums for its crude supplies due to the weaker Egyptian pound and is struggling to pay its debt of between $5 billion and $7 billion to foreign energy companies. 

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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