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Egypt oil minister Sherif Ismail. Image courtesy of World Tribune.

Egypt signed its first ever deal to develop a hydraulic fracturing gas project Wednesday with Royal Dutch Shell and Apache Corporation.

“The project will require horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which is the same as the shale gas production method used in the United States,” Egypt’s oil ministry said Wednesday.

The two companies will drill three wells in the Abu al-Ghardeeq region of the Western Desert, about 124 miles west of Cairo.

A source close to the deal told Reuters the wells will have to be drilled to total depths of about 14,000 feet.

Shell and Houston-based Apache will invest about $30 million to $40 million in the project.

Further details about the project have not been disclosed yet.

Egypt has been dealing with one of its worst energy shortages in decades as the country’s gas consumption continues to rise and domestic production struggles to catch up.

Earlier this year, Egypt agreed to pay a $1.5 billion in debt owed to foreign oil companies by the end of the year.