Israel starts pumping natural gas to neighboring Egypt

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel announced on Wednesday that it had started exporting natural gas to Egypt as part of an agreement reached between the two countries in December.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a video released on Twitter that it was “a moment for celebration, in which Israel turns into a regional energy power.”

The Egyptian ministry of petroleum hailed the gas flow as an “important step” that “serves the economic interests of both countries,” raising hopes Egypt too will become a regional hub for energy.

Israeli natural gas will flow to Europe through Egypt’s liquified natural gas plants, the statement said.

Steinitz was in Cairo for a regional gas forum with representatives from countries around the eastern Mediterranean.

Israel and Egypt signed a $15 billion deal in 2018 to provide Egypt with 64 billion cubic meters of gas over 10 years, a move that that would transform Israel into an energy exporter. Israel finalized the permit to export gas in December.

The Israeli government has touted the country’s newfound energy wealth as a means of strengthening bonds with its neighbors. Israel already exports natural gas to neighboring Jordan. Jordan and Egypt are the two Arab states that have signed peace accords with Israel.

Earlier this month, Israel signed a deal with Greece and Cyprus that would lay the groundwork for a future natural gas pipeline connecting the country’s offshore gas fields with European markets.

In December, Israel began pumping natural gas from its Leviathan gas field to an offshore rig.

Reporting by The Associated Press

Image: This Jan. 31, 2019 file photo, shows an oil platform in the Leviathan natural gas field, in the Mediterranean Sea off the Israeli coast. Israel became a major energy exporter for the first time on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, after signing a permit to export natural gas to neighboring Egypt (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool via AP, File)

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