Speaking in a televised address, Al-Sisi’s comments are the first official acknowledgment of the energy deal which he described as having “a lot of advantages for us [Egyptians]. And I want people to be reassured.”
According to Al-Sisi, the Egyptian government was not directly involved in the deal but “provided several things to … achieve this deal”. “By taking this decision, we scored a big goal,” he added.
On Monday, Delek Drilling and its US partner, Noble Energy, signed the agreement to sell around 64 billion cubic meters of gas over a ten-year period to Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings which will begin next year.
Chief Executive of Delek Drilling, Yossi Abu, described the deal as “great news” for both countries and said he expects most of the gas to be used for Egypt’s domestic market, paving the way for wider cooperation and exportation.
“These agreements continue to demonstrate the strength of the regional market for our natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Gary Willingham, Noble Energy’s executive vice president of operations, added.
According to a report by the European Council on Foreign Relations released last year, Egypt is the only country in the region that can export gas to Europe due to the size of its reserves and existing capacity of exports.
“There are now two options for regional export: to build a pipeline that connects Israel and Cyprus to southern Europe, or to create a network of pipelines into Egypt, from which gas could be liquefied and exported,” the report explained.
Egypt has extensive natural gas facilities on the Mediterranean but they have remained largely inactive since the revolution in 2011 that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak.
There are currently several routes for shipping the gas from Israel to Egypt with an existing pipeline between Jordan and Egypt likely to be considered.
Egypt has previously supplied gas to Israel but pipelines used for this have been sabotaged by militants in the Sinai Peninsula which has experienced an increase in insurgency in recent years.