Israel, Egypt and European Union sign natural gas export deal
Israel has signed a natural gas export deal with Egypt and the European Union (EU) during a regional summit in Cairo, as Europe seeks alternative energy supplies to replace Russia's fuel amid its ongoing war in Ukraine.
The deal, signed on Wednesday, will involve Israeli natural gas being liquefied at Egyptian processing plants and then shipped to Europe, according to Israel's energy ministry.
The EU - which last year imported about 40 percent of its gas from Moscow - is seeking to secure alternative energy supplies, as it mounts pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“With this agreement we will work on the stable delivery of natural gas to the EU from the East Med region,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on Wednesday.
“This will contribute to our energy security. And we are building infrastructure fit for renewables - the energy of the future.”
Von der Leyen said during a visit to Israel on Tuesday that the EU was seeking stronger energy cooperation with Israel, in response to Moscow's use of gas to "blackmail" EU member states since the Ukraine conflict broke out.
"The Kremlin has used our dependency on Russian fossil fuels to blackmail us," von der Leyen said during a speech at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba.
"Since the beginning of the war, Russia has deliberately cut off its gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland, and Dutch and Danish companies, in retaliation for our support to Ukraine."
Tarek El-Molla, Egypt's petroleum minister, said that the deal would lead to further cooperation between the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, whose members include Jordan, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Palestine, France and Italy.
After relying on imports for years, Israel began producing natural gas from its offshore gas fields in 2004.