Egypt to revise all foreign gas deals, including Israel’s 14Apr11 April 15, 2011

Ma’an News Agency  -  14 April 2011

Egypt’s prime minister has asked for the revision off all contracts to supply gas abroad, including to Israel, the country’s official news agency MENA reported on Wednesday.

Egypt supplies an estimated 40 percent of Israel’s gas in what, under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, was a highly controversial deal.

Prime Minister Essam Sharraf “has directed the revision and review of all gas contracts Egypt agreed to with all countries, including Jordan and Israel,” MENA said.

The contracts are to be revisited so the gas “would be sold with deserved prices that achieve the highest returns for Egypt,” it added.

Sharraf is to meet Jordanian Energy Minister Khaled Tuqan on Thursday to discuss the deal with his country, MENA said, adding the revisions could bring Egypt an extra $3 billion-$4 billion in revenue.

Shipments of gas resumed to Israel in March, after they were interrupted in a February 5 attack on a Sinai pipeline as Egypt was rocked by protests that brought down Mubarak.

In December, four Israeli firms signed agreements to import gas under a 20-year contract valued at $5 billion-$10 billion (3.7-7.4 billion euros).

The contract was signed with the Israeli-Egyptian East Mediterranean Gas, in which Ampal-American Israel Corp has a 12.5 percent stake.

EMG has signed a number of agreements with Israeli firms since 2005, and the new contracts will boost the volume of Egyptian gas imports to six billion cubic meters, worth $19 billion.

The agreement has been repeatedly challenged in Egyptian courts on the grounds of its secretive clauses and because it was done without parliamentary consultation.

A court imposed an injunction on the deal, in a move ignored by the government. A higher court overturned the freeze in 2010, on condition the government regulate the quantity and price of gas exported.

Both the Israeli foreign ministry and the national infrastructure ministry, which is responsible for energy, declined to comment on the report.

Israel’s government viewed the ouster of Mubarak, who maintained a reliable if reserved relationship with the Jewish state, with alarm.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel, in 1979, but the public has remained hostile towards Israel over its policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.

After the military took power when Mubarak resigned on February 11, it pledged that it would respect the 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

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