Egypt Pipeline Explosion Cuts Gas Supply To Israel
An explosion today on the Arab Gas Pipeline forced Egypt to shut off natural gas supplies to Israel and Jordan. There were conflictingreports out of Egypt as to the cause of the explosion, with the state-run Middle East News Agency saying the work was done by“subversive elements.” Oil Minister Samah Fahmy reportedly said it could take up to two weeks to repair the damage.
The pipeline is the third most strategically important piece of energy infrastructure in Egypt after the Suez Canal and the Sumed Pipeline. But it is the most important one to Israel, delivering 40% of Israeli natural gas supplies. The Israeli government said this afternoon that it did not expect any interruption of electricity supplies as the country has gas in storage and can also switch to other fuels like oil and diesel. Israel started receiving gas from the pipeline in 2008.
Assuming for a moment that this was not an accident, it represents a serious escalation of the crisis in Egypt. As I wrote earlier this week (See:Will Egypt’s Revolution Mean Oil Armageddon?), even if all of Egypt’s modest oil production were shut off and the Suez Canal were blocked, the world could relatively easily cope with the inconvenience. But gas is generally a much more local commodity, and more prone to supply disruptions than is oil. For example, in the U.S., the winter storm of the past two days managed to disrupt gas supplies to New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Above-ground pipelines are notoriously difficult to secure from terrorist threats, and all the oil-and-gas-rich autocracies of North Africa and the Middle East must be made extremely nervous today by this development and fearful of the way in which revolution could be coming to them next. (See: Oil Giants Fear Revolution Is Coming To Them Next.)
Who could have caused the blast? Impossible to know. But Israel and Egypt have a common enemy in Iran. In the Wikileaks cables, there’s areport that describes a meeting between Egypt’s newly appointed Vice President Suleiman and the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen. The two spend a significant amount of time discussing the threats to the region posed by Iran.
Suleiman tells Mullen:
Egypt has “started a confrontation with Hezbollah
and Iran,” Soliman stressed, and “we will not allow Iran to
operate in Egypt.” Soliman said Egypt had sent a clear
message to Iran that if they interfere in Egypt, Egypt will
interfere in Iran, adding that EGIS had already begun
recruiting agents in Iraq and Syria. Soliman hoped the U.S.
would “not walk the same track as the Europeans” in regards
to negotiating with Iran and warned against only focusing on
one issue at time, like Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Iran
must “pay the price” for its actions and not be allowed to
interfere in regional affairs. “If you want Egypt to
cooperate with you on Iran, we will,” Soliman added, “it
would take a big burden off our shoulders.”
One thing is for sure. Faced with insecure gas supplies from Egypt, Israel must now move with haste to develop the massive reserves of natural gas recently discovered offshore. You can read about them here (Leviathan Oil Field Could Supply Israel For Decades) and here (Israel Confirms Leviathan Gas Find).
Une explosion dans le Sinaï coupe le pipeline fournissant Israël en gaz naturel
Par Palestine Info
Une énorme explosion a fermé samedi un pipeline passant par la péninsule du Sinaï égyptien qui fournit Israël en gaz naturel. Des médias israéliens avaient prédit un tel incident il y a quelques jours.
Les habitants d'El-Arish ont dit qu'ils avaient entendu une énorme explosion, entre les villes d'El-Arish et Sheikh Zuweid, à quelques kilomètres d'une zone résidentielle.
Des responsables égyptiens ont réussi à fermer le pipeline et dit qu'une enquête allait être lancée.
Des équipes d'urgence ont commencé à contenir l'incendie.
Le quotidien israélien Yedioth Ahronoth avait averti auparavant que l'instabilité actuelle en Egypte pourrait être préjudiciable à la fourniture du pays en gaz naturel.
Les réserves en gaz naturel de la compagnie d'électricité ne dureraient que peu de temps si les pipelines étaient coupés, avait dit l'article dimanche dernier.
L'Egypte fournit 40% de la fourniture en gaz à Israël, qui a fait deux milliards de dollars de bénéfices annuels après l'accord QIZ signé en 2005, ainsi qu'un autre milliard de dollars par an grâce au gaz égyptien vendu aux territoires palestiniens occupés.
Source : Palestine Info