Egypt will begin receiving gas from Israel by the middle of 2019, Bloomberg news reported on Monday after unexpected issues came up with the pipeline connecting the two countries. The pipeline is part of a $15-billion deal between Israel and Egypt.
Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek El-Molla provided the new date, telling the CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas, that Cairo expects the gas from Israel to start flowing around mid-2019. Two people familiar with the situation clarified that trial quantities of gas are expected to begin flowing in March, if the pipeline is in good condition.
The pipeline, in general, is already in good shape, but the Israeli and Egyptian gas firms found some missing and faulty components and modifications and repairs would take longer than previously expected, according to those familiar with the situation, Bloomberg reported.
Last year the companies involved in Israel’s largest natural gas fields and an Egyptian partner bought 39% of the East Mediterranean Gas Company, which owns the pipeline connecting Israel to the Sinai Peninsula, to clear the main legal obstacle to the 10-year export contract.
The plan creates an economic link between the two countries, which have mostly only interacted on security issues. It also helps Egypt’s plan to capitalize on its own large gas field and to become a gas re-export hub to Europe.
A spokeswoman from the Israeli companies declined to comment to Bloomberg. Officials from the Egyptian company did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
Part of the plan involves reversing the flow of the pipeline, which previously carried Egyptian gas to Israel. Egypt halted gas exports in 2012 due to Islamist attacks in the Sinai and a domestic energy shortage.
Another sub-sea gas pipeline that would carry even more Israeli gas to Egypt’s existing liquefied natural gas plants is also being discussed.