Could Egypt become a major player in the global oil and gas industry?

Egypt is most commonly thought of in terms of its ancient heritage, but the country could emerge as a key player in the modern oil and gas market if political instability doesn’t get in the way.

Egypt currently imports a significant quantity of oil from abroad in order to meet its daily energy needs. Sporadic fuel shortages have exacerbated the high level of political instability that has permeated the country since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country with an iron first for more than three decades.

Tensions have continued to simmer since the former dictator was ousted in 2011, with Egyptian citizens still expressing many of the same frustrations that they had under Mubarak. High food prices, unreliable public transportation systems and other destabilizing factors are all linked to the country's dependence on foreign oil.

Egypt's holdings of foreign currencies have been falling since Mubarak's downfall. Reserves plunged by nearly 10 percent in January alone. The government continues to pursue a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but it remains unclear whether that credit will be forthcoming in the near future.

At the same time, Egypt may have significant "untapped potential" in terms of domestic energy, according to The Christian Science Monitor's Jen Alic, who recently asserted that the country could emerge as a major player in the global market.

In October, Kuwait Energy uncovered oil deposits in the Gulf of Suez. More recently, Italy's Eni announced that it had discovered new reserves in the Egyptian Western Desert.

While the unstable state of the Egyptian government may be concerning to some potential investors, the country could have a very promising future. Furthermore, increasing domestic oil production will help reduce current tensions by bringing down the cost of food, transportation and other necessities.

Another potential challenge is the physical environment. Drilling in the desert can be difficult, and demands reliable oilfield equipment. Companies considering becoming involved in the country may want to look into how hydraulic lift equipment can help them achieve maximum output from their oil and gas wells.