Gas station 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A high-level Israeli delegation, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s
advisor Yitzhak Molkho, opened talks with Egyptian officials on Thursday on the
price of natural gas and other issues, Egyptian daily Al Masry Al-Youm
The paper cites officials at the Ministry of Petroleum as
saying that the Egyptian government sent official memos to East Mediterranean
Gas Company and to the Israeli government, asking for a review of the gas supply
rates for the current month. The sources added that the memos demanded a change
to the date set for the review of gas prices, a date that was included in an
agreement signed in 2009 between the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company and
Al Masry Al-Youm reported that “there have been signs of a looming
crisis between Cairo and Tel Aviv after the Egyptian government asked that the
prices be raised in order for them to conform to world rates, a suggestion that
was rejected by Israel.”
In a separate development related to Egypt’s
natural gas, Interpol reportedly has issued a warrant for EMG shareholder
Hussein Salem, a confidant of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who owns
28 percent of the company. Salem fled Egypt on January 30, in the midst of the
uprising that led to Mubarak’s ouster. Egyptian authorities accuse him of
corruption and theft amounting to millions of dollars, part of which is related
to EMG’s natural gas contracts with Israeli customers.
EMG supplies 40%
of Israel’s natural gas needs. Deliveries were suspended in late April, for a
second time, following an attack on a gas pipeline in Sinai.
Salem’s partners in EMG is Yosef Maiman, who owns 20.6% of the company through
Ampal-American Israel Corporation and his private company Merhav Group.