Egypt hopes the recent award of five large Western Desert exploration blocks will boost output in its oil heartland from the current 360,000 b/d. Shell’s recommitment to exploration promises future gains from deep formations. But near-term output will fall as key producer Apache slashes 2019 investment.

Egypt last month awarded five large exploration blocks in its Western Desert oil heartland. Shell, a company that had long stalled on Egypt investment signaled that “we’re...