Israeli delegation in Egypt for gas talks

A high-level Israeli delegation opened talks with Egyptian officials on the price of natural gas and other issues.

A man fills his tank at a gas station (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A man fills his tank at a gas station
(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 reported.
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 EMG.
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.
One of 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.