EU Seeks Israeli Natural Gas in a Deal with Egypt

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine is forcing European Union nations to take some tough actions. They are now trying to reduce their dependence on Russian gas. They have signed a new provisional natural gas export deal with Israel and Egypt at an energy conference in Cairo.

The gas from Israel will be sent to liquefaction plants in Egypt. Then they will be shipped to markets in Europe. According to the Energy Ministry of Israel, it would allow considerable exports of Israeli gas to Europe for the first time. As per the agreement, EU nations will also encourage European companies to participate in Egyptian and Israeli exploration tenders, stated the Ministry.

Exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe were likely to increase under the deal, but it would probably take a couple of years before the shipments could be expanded. The EU imported about 40% of its gas from Russia in 2021 and is expected to be dependent on it till 2030. Then it will reduce gas usage and want to achieve the zero-emission status by 2050.

The Memorandum of Understanding

The memorandum of understanding was signed by Egypt's Minister of Petroleum, Tarek El Molla, Israel's Energy Minister, Karine Elharrar, and the EU's Energy Commissioner, Kadri Simson.

Ms. Elharrar stated, "Today Egypt and Israel make a commitment to share our natural gas with Europe and to help with the energy crisis."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was also there at the time, stated that it was "a big step forward in the energy supply to Europe." She added, "I see it as a first step leading to a Mediterranean-wide agreement because I see that the energy supplies, [which] were mostly traditionally in the northern part, now are shifting towards the global south and east."

She also tweeted, "With this agreement, we will work on the stable delivery of natural gas to the EU from the East Med region. This will contribute to our energy security. And we are building infrastructure fit for renewables - the energy of the future."

Revealing Russia's tactics, Von der Leyen said this during a speech at Israel's Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba "The Kremlin has used our dependency on Russian fossil fuels to blackmail us. Since the beginning of the war, Russia has deliberately cut off its gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland, and Dutch and Danish companies, in retaliation for our support to Ukraine."

Great News for Egypt

The deal is great news for Egypt as the country's natural gas facilities on the Mediterranean have largely been inactive since 2011's uprising that led to the downfall of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

In the last few years, the government led by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has put in efforts to rehabilitate and modernize the facilities. In 2018, the country signed a $15 billion deal with Israeli company Delek Drilling and its U.S. partner, Noble Energy, to transport the natural gas there.


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