Egypt and its recent troubles have been a Sword of Damocles hanging over Apache (NYSE:APA) since the Arab Spring erupted in December 2010. Since then, Egypt has been in a constant state of flux that has led to new leadership and economic struggles. Apache is currently one of the largest leaseholders and producers in the country, and investors' worries regarding the country-specific risks have left the stock trading well below its peer averages.
Recent struggles providing its citizens with affordable diesel fuel have left the country clamoring for deals with its Middle East brethren. Some countries have come to its aid, but with only 50% of its refining capacity being used, wouldn't it make sense to put its own reserves to work?
What kind of presence does Apache have?
Egypt currently accounts for 10% of Apache's total estimated reserves, at 273 million barrels of oil equivalent. That level of reserves resides under 9.7 million gross acres, making Apache the largest leaseholder in Egypt's Western Desert. For 2013, management plans to invest $1.1 billion in the region to continue its successful campaign there, and closer ties with the government would make things that much more comfortable.
Historically, Egypt has provided subsidies for fuel, but the International Monetary Fund is requesting that these come to an end before it lends $4.8 billion in vital funds to President Mohamed Morsi and his constituents. While this may seem like a no-brainer for Morsi, cutting an expected $17 billion in 2013 subsidies isn't something the Egyptian people would take lightly.
Food for Foolish thought
Rather than rely on governments in surrounding nations to transport crude oil into the country, why not work directly with Apache to formulate a deal that would not only help solve the fuel dilemma but also be likely to add jobs in the refining sector? True, the country's currency is ailing, but if it decided to keep its own production within its borders, this would be a non-starter. Then, once the IMF funds had time to permeate the country, perhaps the currency would pick up, and it would become economically viable to export domestically produced fossil fuels and the accompanying derivative products.
Taylor Muckerman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apache. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.