Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Part of Sinai pipeline sabotaged again

For the third time since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February, on 4th July saboteurs blew up part of the gas pipeline in northern Sinai which takes gas from Egypt to Jordan and Israel.

The pipeline feeds into two export pipelines which bifurcate at el-Arish. One goes to Ashkelon and delivers up 2.4 billion cubic metres a year of gas to Israel. The other, the Arab Gas Pipeline, goes south and delivers up to 4.5 bcm a year to Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The explosion was at a pumping station at Nagah in Bir Abdu, 60km east of Suez. According to security sources quoted in the media, a group of armed men forced the staff at the station to leave before blowing it up. Ampal-American Israel Corporation, which has a 12.5 per cent stake in East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), operator of the Arish-Ashkelon pipeline, said the explosion occurred at the point where the two pipelines diverge.

The damage was quickly repaired and gas supplies resumed to Israel within two days, albeit at a reduced rate, according to Ampal. After the previous explosion on 27th April, gas flows did not resume until early June. Not so, according to Egypt. Al Masry Al Youm quoted an official from the Egyptian Natural Gas Company (GASCO), the company responsible for exporting natural gas to Israel, as denying that gas exports to Israel had resumed.

GASCO chief Magdy Tawfiq said that repair work was still underway. He explained that the company shut off valves to stop the flow of gas while residual gas was drawn out of the pipe to empty it. He expected the repairs to be completed shortly as damage was limited.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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