Egypt Says Sinai Gas to Return Within 10 Days - Just in Time
Egypt said Wednesday that the flow of gas to Israel and Jordan from Sinai would be renewed within ten days.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Majdi Tawfik, the head of Egypt's state controlled supplier Gasco, said that repairs on the pipeline that was destroyed last week were proceeding nicely, and that the repair would be completed between within a week to 10 days. After that, he said, the gas would resume flowing.
Several days ago, the PA's news service, Ma'an, reported that Egyptian troops had arrested one of the top Bedouin terrorists in Sinai. Muhammad al-Tihi, is suspected of carrying out several bombings of the pipeline supplying gas to Israel and Jordan, including the most recent attack a week ago. He is also said to have been involved in the terror attack in the southern Negev in August, in which eight Israelis were killed.
The Egyptian announcement couldn't have come too soon for Israeli consumers: The Israel Electric Company on Wednesday asked for yet another rate increase, this time by 30%. The increase, if granted, will be implemented in February of next year – and if the increase is granted, it will mean that electricity prices will have risen by some 50% in the space of 6 months, taking into account the fact that prices have already gone up some 15% since August.
The IEC claims that it needs the money to pay for reliable sources of raw materials, and that Israel could not remain dependent on Egypt for gas supplies.
Media reports detailed the discussion between IEC and Treasury officials Tuesday, in which electric company officials laid out their arguments for a rate hike. Aside from the fact that resources the IEC requires to make electricity are going up in cost, the company is NIS 60 billion in debt – and without more income, officials said, the IEC could go bankrupt, leaving Israel without a supply of electricity.
According to the reports, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz demanded that the IEC streamline itself – by shedding workers and increasing efficiency in its work methods.