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Israel to supply gas to Egypt under multi-billion-dollar export deal

An Israeli gas platform, controlled by a US-Israeli energy group, is seen in the Mediterranean, some 24 kilometers west of Israel's port city of Ashdod, on February 25, 2013. (Photo by Reuters)

Israel has signed a multi-billion-dollar deal with Egypt to supply natural gas to the northeast African country over a span of ten years.

Israeli energy company Delek Drilling and its US partner, Noble Energy, announced on Monday that they had signed a gas deal worth $15 billion with Egypt to supply a total of 64 billion cubic meters of gas from Israel's Tamar and Leviathan offshore gas fields to Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings over a 10-year period.

Yossi Abu, chief executive of Delek Drilling, called the accord "great news" for Cairo and Tel Aviv and said the deal was the largest-ever export agreement for Israel's nascent natural gas industry.

Abu expressed optimism that the deal could help pave the way toward turning Egypt into an export hub for Israeli gas.

"Egypt is becoming a real gas hub," the CEO of Delek Drilling told Reuters. "This deal is the first deal of potentially more to come."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the contract as "historic" in a statement and said it would "strengthen our economy (and) strengthen regional ties." 

The gas is expected to start flowing next year.

Meanwhile, Noble and Delek also announced that they had been trying to finalize a long-term export deal with a Royal Dutch Shell plant in Egypt.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an Egyptian government official said the latest deal with Israel did not mean that Cairo itself would import any gas from abroad.

"International private companies will import gas from abroad in the framework of their own needs, and will liquefy and export them again," the official said, without elaborating.

Egypt had once sold gas to Israel, but the deal was terminated by Egypt’s state-run gas company EGAS following the ouster of the country’s dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Relations between Cairo and Tel Aviv have improved since the 2013 toppling of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi.

Cairo has also been accused of acting as Israel’s proxy in maintaining Tel Aviv’s years-long blockade on the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip.

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