Egypt denies resuming natural gas to Israel

Reuters , Wednesday 16 Mar 2011

North Sinai governor says deliveries have not restarted after February explosion


The supply of natural gas from Egypt to Israel has resumed after a number of delays, an Israeli partner in the East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) consortium said on Wednesday.

This statement was, however, denied by North Sinai governor, Abdel Wehab Mabrouk, who told Ahram Online that the main pumping station is "still off-duty, and repairing operations are frozen because of sabotage operations that occured recently".

Others eye-witness reports seem to back up Mabrouk's announcement.

"Repairs are on hold for more than three weeks. Oil companies responsible for these operations left and never came back to our location,", adds one eye-witness, without giving his name.

The gas pipeline connecting the two countries had been damaged in an explosion and fire on 5 February. Gas supply to Israeli customers was set to resume on Monday after completion of repair work and testing, but a leak was discovered. The date had already been pushed back several times from 4 March.

"EMG has further advised that, according to technical protocols, the initial quantities of gas supplied to EMG are less than the contractual quantities and will ramp up on a daily basis to reach full contractual quantities," Ampal-American Israel Corp said in a statement.

Ampal holds 12.5 per cent of EMG.

Egyptian state television and local government officials had reported that saboteurs blew up the pipeline that runs through Egypt's North Sinai, disrupting flows to Israel and Jordan after Islamists called on militants to exploit the unrest that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

EMG is owned by Egyptian businessman Hussain Salem, Egypt Natural Gas Co, Thailand's PTT, American businessman Sam Zell, Ampal-American and Israel's Merhav.

EMG supplies 45 per cent of the gas needs of Israel's electric utility. The rest comes from off Israeli shores.

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