Egypt has made a new record high in gas imports from Israel in the first quarter of the year.
According to the weekly newsletter by the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES), Cairo imported 720 million cubic feet per day from Israel in March, equivalent to over 20 million cubic metres per day.
The report added that Egypt also accounted for an all-time high – 26.5 per cent – of Israel's gas output during the same period.
The development is the latest sign of growing cooperation between Israel and Egypt in the energy sector following Cairo's decision to begin importing Israeli gas in 2020 after the signing by Egypt's Dolphinus Holdings two years earlier to purchase 64 billion cubic metres of Israeli gas over a decade in a deal worth $15 billion.
In 2020 Israel became a key supplier of natural gas to Egypt after starting production from its Tamar and Leviathan offshore gas fields. Approximately five billion cubic metres per year of gas is being supplied to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula via a subsea pipeline from Israel.
"That Egypt is taking record volumes of Israeli gas is expected, although the current levels are higher than the contractual volumes. Egypt is looking to maintain LNG [liquefied natural gas] exports, and importing Israeli gas is an important aspect of that," Peter Stevenson, the Eastern Mediterranean editor at MEES, told Al-Monitor.
In line with Tel Aviv's ambitions to become a regional energy hub and Europe's alternative to Russian gas, Israel started gas exports to Egypt through a new route via Jordan in March. Israel's Ministry of Energy has also mapped around 25 exploration blocks in the Mediterranean Sea, which it aims to use in its next round of bids for offshore natural gas exploration licenses.
However, some of these plans have brought Israel into maritime disputes with neighbouring Lebanon. On Monday, Lebanon's Hezbollah movement warned Israel against working in the Karish gas field located in the disputed maritime zone.
Egypt is also looking to renew plans to become a regional gas hub with its two LNG facilities, however, these plans depend on its ability to increase gas imports for later re-export and therefore require greater reliance on Israel.