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Israelis will ‘give up’ on Egyptian gas, expert says
July 31, 2011 01:42
Blast is third this month, fifth this year; masked men attack police station after riding through el-Arish, waving flags with Islamic slogans.
Gas pipeline explosion [illustrative]

gas pipeline 311 R. (photo credit:REUTERS)

After gunmen attacked the Egyptian gas pipeline in the northern Sinai on Saturday – the fifth such attack in the past six months – an Israeli energy expert said he believes that Israeli officials and the country’s major gas consumers have all but “given up” on that source of natural gas.

“According to the partial information we have, this explosion only affects the export of Egyptian gas to Israel,” Amit Mor, CEO and energy specialist at the Eco Energy consulting firm, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night. “It was directed against Israel and will not affect future supplies of gas to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.”

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During Saturday’s attack, the saboteurs used rocket-propelled grenades to puncture a hole in a section of the pipeline that normally directs gas to Israel, but whose supply had not yet been resumed from the previous attack, on July 12, Reuters reported. The gunmen arrived in two trucks but sped away from the site after being confronted by Egyptian troops.

There were no casualties, the report said.

“It is crucial to Israel that the Egyptian government establishes security control, especially in northern Sinai – and especially at the crossing point in Rafah on the Egyptian- Gazan border – to prevent the smuggling of an arsenal against Israel, and also to secure the natural gas pipeline to Israel,” Mor told the Post. “I think the major consumers and government all have given up on the supply of Egyptian gas to Israel.”

The gas supply to Israel had been due to resume shortly, according to Mor.

“While important for geopolitical and economic reasons, Israel can do without that gas – although the public will pay much higher prices, especially for electricity, in the short term,” he said. “It is a major challenge to the current – and any future – Egyptian government to maintain sovereignty in Sinai.”

Mor added that the Egyptian gas situation would be a bellwether of future policy emanating from Cairo.

“The resumption of the full contractual obligation of gas supply to Israel can be used as a test-case of the Egyptian government to maintain its international obligations visa- vis foreign direct investments in Egypt on the one hand, and its future relations with Israel on the other,” he said.

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