Israel, Egypt sign landmark natural gas deal
Egypt and Israel on Thursday signed a much-delayed deal for Egypt to supply natural gas to the Jewish state. Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer and Egyptian Oil Minister Sameh Fahmi signed the agreement during a ceremony Thursday on the outskirts of Cairo, also attended by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, AFP reported.
The deal is between the Israeli Electric Company (IEC) and the Israeli-Egyptian consortium East Mediterranean Gas, which is jointly owned by Egyptian General Petroleum Corp. and the private Israeli company Merhav.
Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding, signed Thursday, Egypt will supply Israel through a maritime pipeline to the southern town of Ashkelon with 1.7 billion cubic metres (60 billion cubic feet) of natural gas a year.
The first deliveries of the 2.5-billion-dollar project are expected in the first quarter of 2006, sources in Egypt and Israel said. The agreement is for a period of 15 years.
Egypt and Israel opened negotiations on the gas deal in 2000, but they were suspended after the eruption of the Palestinian intifada.