Gas Sales to Israel in Trouble?

An Egyptian panel has recommended annulling a gas deal with Israel; move is part of a larger battle over gas sales to Israel.

Maayana Miskin, | updated: 19:45

Gas stored in Israel
Gas stored in Israel
Israel News Photo: (file)

An Egyptian committee has recommended that Egypt stop exporting natural gas for a reduced price. Egypt currently provides reduced-price gas to several countries, among them Israel.

Committee members said the export of reduced-price gas was causing financial harm and did not serve the public interest. The government should allow prices to change according to worldwide fluctuations in the price of gas, the committee argued.

The committee's ruling was part of a legal battle in Egypt against the sale of gas to Israel.

The Egyptian government argued that Egypt is required to sell Israel natural gas under the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries. In February a Cairo court accepted the government's argument and ruled in favor of the continuation of gas sales, overturning a lower court ruling.

Israel and Egypt agreed in 2005 that Egypt would supply Israel with 1.7 billion cubic meters of gas each year for 15 years. The agreement has created controversy in Egypt, where opponents say it is unfavorable to Egypt. Opposition to the deal grew during the three-week-long Cast Lead counterterrorism operation in Gaza.

Following the committee's assessment this week, Cairo's Supreme Administrative court ruled that both the government and opponents of the deal will have half a year to review the information, after which the court will reconvene.

Earlier this year, Israeli and American firms announced a massive natural gas find off the coast of Haifa which was lauded as capable of fueling all of Israel’s gas needs for 15 or 20 years. Israeli companies Isramco Negev 2, Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration, and Dor Gas Exploration had the majority of the stake on the dig – named Tamar-1 – which is estimated at a potential of 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

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