Israeli gas finally reaches Egypt as mega deal bears fruit

'A holiday for the state of Israel': Israeli gas begins pumping to Egypt

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that the Sinai Peninsula has sufficient capacity for current volumes; however, the option of building a second pipeline will be considered if demand from Egypt grows.

Israel began exporting natural gas to Egypt on Wednesday, under a historic, 15-year deal between the two countries.

"Today is a day to celebrate in the history of the relations between our two countries", Rivlin wrote to Sisi, saying that the Leviathan project "makes real the connection" between their two countries. Israel finalized the permit to export gas in December.

The deal is expected to boost regional ties, and Egypt hopes the new agreement will help it become a regional energy hub.

The flow of gas being pumped from the offshore Leviathan gas field is expected to be turned over to the offshore Tamar gas field sometime in the near future, reports say.

The step "represents an important development that serves the economic interests for both countries", Egypt's Oil Ministry said early Wednesday in a statement announcing the first transfer.

Israeli officials have called the export of gas to Egypt the most significant deal to emerge since the countries signed a historic peace treaty in 1979.

Currently, he said, the country exports one billion cubic feet of gas to Europe each month in 10 shipments, but plans to double that number once operations at the LNG plant at Damietta, which stopped several years ago as a result of a dispute, restart.

Damietta is 80 percent owned by UFG, with the remaining 20 percent split evenly between the state-owned Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation.

The deal is also a lifeline for Israel's gas industry, which has had trouble securing foreign investment for the aptly-named Leviathan since its discovery in 2010. But its towering production platform was constructed just 10km from the shore, which prompted environmental activists and municipalities in Israel to lobby for building the structure further out at sea.

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