Egypt Resumes Exporting Natural Gas to Israel


pipelinegypt resumed exporting natural gas to Israel and Jordan, said an official at state-owned Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co.

The shipments started June 10 after repairs following an explosion in April that damaged the pipeline network carrying the fuel, Enas El Sheikh, the general manager of the information department, said today by phone from Cairo.

“The gas started flowing at small amounts on Friday,” she said. “Now they are trying out the spare parts that were imported to replace the parts that were damaged.”

Flow rates will increase to 30 percent to 35 percent of total contracted amounts by the end of today from 15 percent since shipments resumed, said an official at Cairo-based East Mediterranean Gas Co., asking not to be identified in line with company policy.

Unidentified attackers blew up a monitoring room near the northern Sinai city of El-Arish on April 27, halting domestic supplies and gas exports. The Oil Ministry said at the time that the incident was an “act of sabotage” and that an investigation was under way to identify the perpetrators. The attack was the second in three months on the pipeline after a similar blast on Feb. 5 during the popular uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak. Authorities thwarted a separate attempt on the network on March 27.

The Egyptian authorities were stepping up security measures along the 192-kilometer (119-mile) pipeline, Abdel Sattar El Demerdash, general manager of gas network and engineering and analysis at the Egyptian Natural Gas Co., or Gasco, said May 26.
Exports to Israel

Opposition members, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have criticized Mubarak’s regime for exporting the fuel to Israel at prices they say were below market rates. During the 18 days of demonstrations that ended with Mubarak’s ouster on Feb. 11, some protesters were demanding halting gas exports to Israel, with which the North African country signed a peace treaty in 1979.

East Mediterranean Gas, in which Ampal-American Israel (AMPL) Corp. owns a 12.5 percent stake, buys the gas from the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co., or Egas, and ships it to Israel via an undersea extension. A separate branch that splits from the Gasco-operated main North Sinai pipeline transports the fuel to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Egypt holds Africa’s third-biggest gas reserves, with 78 trillion cubic feet (2.19 trillion cubic meters), according to data from BP Plc. It produces 6.3 billion cubic feet of gas a day, according to Oil Ministry documents.

{Bloomberg News/ Newscenter}