Egypt, Israel to reshape Middle East gas map

As planed in March, Egypt and Israel take a new step towards a closer partnership on gas exploitation.

egypt israel deal gas pipeline EMG
Offshore discoverer in Egypt © Olav Gjerstad

Will hydrocarbons be the cement of Middle East as fertilizers could be the cement for the African continent? Will hydrocarbons transcend all political and ideological issues between Arabs and Israelis? Since the Camp David Accords in 1978, Egypt has its own response. Today Egypt is near to close a new deal with Israel on gas to control EMG pipeline.

This deal involves American, Egyptian and Israeli companies and will give them the largest voting bloc at East Mediterranean Gas Ltd. (EMG) board. Israel’s Delek Drilling LP, U.S.-based Noble Energy Inc. and the Egyptian firm Dolphinus Holdings will develop Israel’s largest natural gas fields and will take control of EMG which operates the undersea pipeline that connect Egypt to its main Arab clients.

This new deal will mainly remove majors obstacles by using EMG’s pipeline to convey 64 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Israel’s offshore fields of Leviathan and Tamar, off Haifa. This Israeli-Egyptian gas export deal – as announced last February – may soften Israeli-Arab relations clouded for too many months now. Even inland portions of the pipeline in the Sinai desert were repeatedly attacked by militants for the past four years.

The significant and recent discoveries, both on Israeli and Egyptian offshore fields, may boost cooperation between the two countries. Egypt will soon be able to receive gas from Israel and use it domestically or re-export it to Arab countries.

Negociations are underway between the three parters to create a joint venture to buy EMG stakes. A agreement should be reached in the coming months in order to operate Tamar gas field by the beginning of 2019. Former Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail Mohamed (who left office on June 2018 to be nominated to serve as the top aide to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi) did not comment that future deal which may include a reduction of the $1.76 billion fine set by an international arbiter to the Egyptian state…