Egypt and Israel have announced plans to partner and develop a natural gas pipeline worth US $15bn on the Red Sea in Sinai for export to Asia.
Israeli Energy Minister, Yuval Steinitz revealed the reports during his visit to Egypt and said that the new liquefaction facility in Sinai will be similar to one originally put forward by Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co to be constructed in Israel, near Eilat, but was scrapped after the Ministry of Environmental Protection opposed it.
Natural gas facility
The proposed facility, is symbolic of tightening relations between Israel and Egypt over energy projects. Building the facility on the Red Sea is designed to open the option of exporting Israeli and Egyptian liquefied natural gas (LNG ) to the East Asian market: India, China, Japan, South Korea, and other countries, which constitute 70% of the global liquefied gas market.
The facility will also be advantaged when located on the Red Sea because it will shorten the route for transporting the gas and bypasses the expensive passage through the Suez Canal.
Steinitz also announced that Israel’s natural gas exports to Egypt will begin in November as part of a US $15bn export agreement between Israel’s Delek Drilling and the US’ Noble Energy with an Egyptian counterpart.
Israel has called this deal the most significant to emerge since the 1979 peace treaty. In 2011 protesters sabotaged the pipeline carrying Egyptian gas to Israel. When former President Mohamed Morsi was voted in Egyptian gas companies cancelled an agreement to supply gas to Israel.
This time, the idea is to construct the facility on the Egyptian side of the border, which will make it possible to overcome the opposition to the huge project. In Egypt, the ability to delay such projects for environmental reasons is much more limited. Furthermore, a liquefaction project on Egyptian territory can provide jobs for thousands of Egyptians during the construction stage and hundreds more during the operational stage.