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Israel to export gas to Egypt

Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz announced that Israel will begin exporting natural gas to Egypt by the end of the year.

Steinitz made the announcement yesterday in Cairo after attending a gas forum. The meeting was hosted by President Abdel-Fattah al Sissi and Egypt’s Energy Minister Tariq al-Mulla. Also in attendance were Greece’s Energy Minister Costis Hatzidakis, Cyprus’ Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis, and US Secretary for Energy Rick Perry, who had spent the last few days in Israel.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the gas transfer is the start of a $15bn export agreement between Israel’s Delek Drilling, Texas-based partner Noble Energy and Egyptian East Gas, in what Israeli officials have called the most significant deal to emerge between the neighbours since their peace treaty was signed in 1979.

The export agreement, signed last year, will bring natural gas from Israeli offshore fields Tamar and Leviathan into the Egyptian gas grid. Delek, Noble and Egyptian East Gas have agreed to buy into the East Mediterranean Gas Company’s (EMG) pipeline to transport the gas between Ashkelon in Israel and El-Arish in Egypt. Steinitz said the deal to buy stakes in the EMG pipeline would be completed in “the next few weeks”.

Discussions ware already taking place about building an additional pipeline across the Mediterranean directly from Israeli and Cypriot gas platforms to liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in the Nile Delta and about building a new on-land connection, Steinitz said. “If we really assume that this is just the beginning, much more gas will be discovered.” Earlier this year, Steinitz projected that Israeli exports to Egypt could reach 7bn cubic meters annually over the next 10 years. About half the exports are expected to be used for Egypt’s domestic market and half will be liquefied for export.

Steinitz also held a series of bilateral meetings with President Sissi and his Egyptian and US counterparts. Steinitz reportedly told Sissi that the entire world needed to appreciate the Egyptian leader’s contribution to stability in the Arab country, which he said was vital to the region.