gas pipeline 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
CAIRO - Saboteurs blew up the gas pipeline between Egypt, Israel and Jordan on Thursday morning in Northern Sinai using remote controlled explosive bombs forcing a shutdown in the flow of gas, Egyptian security sources said.
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The blast, the seventh this year and the first since pumping was resumed on 24 October, was near Mazar area, 30 km (18 miles) west of the town of Al-Arish.
Witnesses saw a second, smaller explosion west of Al-Arish near a pumping station, state news agency MENA reported. The report said it was not clear whether any damage was done. The explosions are the first since pumping resumed on Oct. 24.
"Primary examination showed that Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) were put under the pipeline and were detonated from a distance," a security source told Reuters.
"The attackers used two trucks and extended wires were found at the scene," he added.
Residents in Al-Arish told Reuters that flames could be seen from the
town. Witnesses told MENA security forces and fire fighters had
controlled the fire.
The pipeline has been a target for attacks by anonymous saboteurs since
the overthrow of Mubarak in February, although the first pipeline attack
took place days before he was ousted by an uprising.
Egypt and Israel have signed a 20-year natural gas deal by which Egypt
would export gas to its neighbour. The deal was unpopular with the
Egyptian public and critics argued the Jewish state had been offered gas
at prices that were too low.
A company official from East Mediterranean Gas Co (EMG), which exports
Egyptian gas to Israel, had said in July that international shareholders
in the firm were pursuing legal claims against Egypt for $8 billion in
damages from contract violations in gas supplies. That followed
disruptions caused by pipeline attacks.
Egypt doubled the price of gas exported to Jordan last month. The
government was under pressure to charge Israel and Jordan more for gas
exports because those fixed under Mubarak were seen as below market
Petroleum Minister Abdullah Ghorab said the new price for gas exported
to Jordan was just above $5 per million BTU, compared to the previous
price of $2.15 to $2.30.
The Egyptian government said this month it would tighten security
measures along the pipeline by installing alarm devices and appointing
security patrols from local Bedouin tribes.
Previous explosions have closed the pipeline, run by Gasco, Egypt's gas
transport company - a subsidiary of the national gas company EGAS, for