Officials at the Egyptian natural gas company Gasco said they have no plans to repair the gas pipeline to Israel, after it was bombed on Sunday for the 15th time since the revolution last year which toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.
An official source at the company told the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm on Monday that all activities have been brought to a halt at the main natural gas station in Sheikh Zuwayed, near Arish in the North Sinai Governorate. The source added, however, that pipeline repairs do not typically take a long time.
Sunday’s blast rocked the area east of the coastal Sinai town of el-Arish, at a point before the pipeline splits into separate branches to Israel and Jordan, security officials and witnesses told Reuters.
Gunmen in a small truck drove up to the pipeline, dug a hole and placed explosive charges under the pipeline that they detonated from a distance, a security official and witnesses added.
Flames of burning gas could be seen up to 18 miles away, as sources said later they could see flames of residual burning gas lighting the sky.
Meanwhile, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that the Arish Public Prosecution has resumed investigations into the attack.
A team of prosecutors, a bomb squad and forensic investigators went to the scene of the explosion to search for any evidence that would lead to the perpetrators, the report said.
Prosecutors summoned the pipeline’s watchmen for interrogation, and the Petroleum Ministry formed a panel to assess the damages.
Following the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood as the dominant power in Egypt, Cairo canceled a 20-year agreement to supply Israel with gas. A senior official in the Egyptian army, which held power in Egypt after Mubarak’s fall, later said the agreement was not cancelled but only suspended.
Last month, a criminal court in Egypt jailed a former Mubarak-era cabinet minister and a businessman for 15 years each, for selling Israel natural gas "below market value."
The men were accused "of exporting gas to Israel at below market value", thus undermining the interests of Egypt.