Blast in Sinai pipeline
Photo: AFP

Leak reported in Egypt gas pipeline

Gas supply to Israel may be delayed again due to malfunction. Egyptian expert estimates Israel to receive only one-quarter of quantity supplied before Sinai pipeline blast in early February

Egyptian gas company EMG has informed Israel of a leak in one of its pipes in the al-Arish area, which may lead to another delay in the supply of gas which was expected to be resumed Monday. The company's engineers were said to be trying to fix the malfunction.


On Sunday, EMG informed its clients in Israel that it planned to renew the supply of natural gas, which was halted five weeks ago following an explosion in the Sinai pipeline, on Monday. EMG's Israeli partner, businessman Yossi Maiman's Ampal company, relayed the news to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.


Egyptian oil expert Dr. Amr Hammouda estimated in an interview to the London-based Arabic-language al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper that once the gas supply was resumed, Israel would receive only one-quarter of the quantity supplied before the pipeline explosion.


According to Hamouda, the amount of gas would be reduced due to Egypt's need of natural gas in the local market and the security instability in the Sinai area.


Once resumed, the natural gas from Egypt will be supplied first to the Israel Electric Corporation, which will use it to operate its power plants. The second client to receive the gas will be the Haifa oil refinery, owned by Israel Corp.


The gas flow was halted on February 5 following a terror attack on a pipeline in southern Sinai. At this stage it is unclear whether the gas supply will be fully opr partially restored.


The National Infrastructure Ministry has estimated the damage caused to the Israeli economy by the absence of Egyptian gas at NIS 6 million ($1.7 million) a day.


Egypt has been supplying 40% of Israel's natural gas since May 2008 – raw material for the production of 20% of the country's electricity – through the state-owned EMG company, businessmen Hussein Salem of Egypt, Yossi Maiman of Israel and Jewish American Sam Zell, and Thai energy company PTT.


The Egyptian opposition openly objects to the gas deal signed between the two countries in 2005. Since the Egyptian supply was halted, Israel Electric Corp. and the private power plants have been purchasing their gas from the Israeli Yam Tatis reservoir.


Last weekend, Israel's natural gas supply was suspended for several hours due to a malfunction in the Yam Tatis reservoir following work aimed at upgrading its abilities should it become Israel's sole gas supplier.


Following the malfunction, the National Infrastructure Ministry ordered the Electric Corp. to increase production at the coal fired power stations and instructed power plants to use diesel and fuel oil instead of gas.


Israeli officials feared that the suspended Egyptian gas supply would deplete the Yam Tatis reservoir at the end of 2012, instead of 2013. Yam Tatis will be replaced by the Tamar reservoir, which was scheduled to start operating in 2014, but businessman Yitzhak Tshuva, one of the owners of Tamar and Yam Tatis, said last week that it would be activated by early 2013.



פרסום ראשון: 03.14.11, 07:42
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