Israel to boost natural gas export to Egypt by up to 50 pct this month

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Israel will boost natural gas export to Egypt by as much as 50 percent by the end of the month, deepening energy ties between Middle Eastern neighbors that have designs to become regional hubs.

The firms that own Israel’s two biggest offshore reservoirs, led by Chevron Corp., will pipe another 2-2.5 billion cubic meters more of gas per year to Egypt, Israel’s Energy Minister Karine al-Harrar said in an interview in Cairo late Monday, without disclosing any financial details.

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The new quantities will be transferred through a pipeline traversing Jordan while work continues to expand the potential volume in the route that services the $15 billion contract signed in 2018, she said. Israel currently sends 5 billion cubic meters each year to Egypt via a pipeline that connects southern Israel to the Sinai peninsula, and the aim is to reach a capacity of 6.5 billion cubic meters by next year, al-Harrar said.

“Egypt is a big strategic partner for us,” said al-Harrar.

The added fuel would help Egypt meet its domestic energy needs and push forward plans to consolidate regional resources for export to bigger markets such as Europe.

Firms restarted exporting liquefied natural gas from Egypt’s Damietta plant last year after it had sat idle for nine years, and cranked up output from the country’s other export facility which was under-utilized.

Some Israeli gas has been exported through Egypt’s LNG plants. Whether more will be rerouted to Europe -- facing the threat of an energy crunch over Russia’s military encroachment onto Ukraine -- was unclear to al-Harrar.

The White House, alongside European governments, has been turning to major natural gas suppliers as backup in case of a Russian invasion of Ukraine whereby President Vladimir Putin tightens supply to the continent in response to sanctions on his country.

Al-Harrar said she did not receive a request for gas supply from the US or the European Union, but she would examine one if she did. It’s unlikely Israel would be able to send “huge quantities given that most of its present capacity is committed to Egypt, Jordan and its domestic market.

“We are dealing with the region, not with Europe,” said al-Harrar.

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