Egypt explores gas cooperation with Palestine, Israel under EMGF scheme

Bassant Mohammed
4 Min Read
Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Engineer Tarek El Molla

Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El Molla headed to Ramallah and Israel, on Sunday, in a visit that aims to support the goals and efforts of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), according to statement from the ministry.

El-Molla met Israeli Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz, where they agreed to connect Israel’s Leviathan gas field to the Egyptian Liquefied Natural Gas (Egyptian LNG) company’s facilities, via an offshore pipeline.

They also stressed the importance of cooperation to achieve the goals of the United Nations’ 2030 plan and the Global Climate Agreement, to reduce harmful emissions by 2050.

Both sides discussed ways to achieve energy independence for the Palestinians through several projects, such as developing the Gaza maritime gas field, establishing a power station in Jenin, and supplying natural gas to Palestinian cities.

The officials praised the bilateral cooperation in the field of energy which contributes to supporting energy security and diversification. They added that the EMGF also helps in the development of a regional gas market.

The Egyptian Minister will also hold discussions with Mohammad Mustafa, Senior Adviser to the Palestinian President on economic affairs. 

The EMGF members are Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority, and have united against their mutual regional rival, Turkey. 

The latter has been locked in a bitter dispute with European Union (EU) members Greece and Cyprus over gas drilling rights in the region. France has applied to join the EMGF, with the US and EU requesting observer status.

The forum aims to achieve a common vision and systematic dialogue in order to develop a regional gas market. This would support the member states’ efforts to invest their gas reserves and use the existing and future available infrastructure through fruitful and constructive cooperation between all member countries.

In late 2020, six Energy Ministers, including Egypt’s, signed the EMGF charter. The agreement established a vital platform that brings together gas producers, consumers and transit states to boost a sustainable regional market for gas.

In 2018, two 10-year agreements worth $15bn in Israeli natural gas exports to Egypt were signed between Delek Drilling, Noble Energy, and the Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings. The agreements were for the supply of 64 bcm of gas to Egypt, which was later amended to 85.3 bcm.

During his visit, El Molla met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During the meeting, Netanyahu asserted that there is a “huge opportunity” to achieve regional cooperation between Egypt, Israel, and other countries.

According to the agreement, gas exports from the Leviathan gas field, located off the coast of Israel, was set to start on 1 January 2020. Meanwhile, exports from the Tamar gas field, also off the coast of Israel, was to start on 30 June 2020.

Egypt aims to transform itself into a regional gas hub, through the exploitation of its LNG plants in Idku and Damietta, through importing gas from Israel and Cyprus and re-exporting them to other markets. Both Cyprus and Israel need Egypt, as it already has the entire necessary infrastructure in place

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