Israeli natural gas exports to Egypt are due to start in mid-January and will gradually reach 7 billion cubic metres by 2022, Reuters cited an unnamed source as saying on Sunday. A spokesperson for Egypt’s Petroleum Ministry declined to comment on the issue.
The developments come after Israel’s Energy Ministry gave its final go-ahead earlier this week to the beginning of production at the massive Leviathan field following a court’s decision to scrap a temporary injunction slapped on the companies operating the field over environmental concerns.
In November 2018, Israel’s Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz promised that his country would provide Egypt and Jordan with gas in 2019, referring to a landmark deal that the Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings reached with the Israeli companies operating the Israeli fields Leviathan and Tamar.
* The Leviathan Gas Field *— Norwell EDGE (@NorwellEDGE) June 14, 2019
The Leviathan gas field, discovered in 2010 offshore Israel, is one of the largest ever gas discoveries in the Mediterranean. #FactFriday #oilandgas #elearning
Earlier, the companies pledged to increase the amount of their gas exports to Egypt, with an Israeli energy industry source reportedly estimating that the value of gas from Leviathan and Tamar may stand at about $14 billion and $5.5 billion, respectively.
Thaw in Israeli-Egyptian Ties
Egypt and Jordan remain the only Arab countries to have officially recognised Israel’s right to exist.
The planned Israeli gas exports to Egypt come amid thriving relations between Cairo and Tel Aviv, which recieved a fresh impetus after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reportedly urged other Arab nations to establish trade ties with Israel and resolve political differences with the Jewish state.
In January 2016, Israel had received its first ambassador from Egypt over three years, after the previous envoy was removed in 2012 by Egypt's then-President Muhammad Morsi, who took power after protests which brought down long-time leader Hosni Mubarak. Morsi removed the Egyptian ambassador in response to an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Amid a wave of popular discontent caused by the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Morsi was removed from power and a transitional period was announced in the country. Since his ouster, Egypt has maintained a hardline stance on the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Palestinian movement Hamas, which had been politically allied with Morsi.
Despite political upheavals, Egypt and Israel remain committed to a bilateral peace treaty which was signed by then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in March 1979, following the two leaders' signing the 1978 Camp David Accords.
The treaty added to Israel returning the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt after a 15-year military occupation established in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War.