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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gas pipeline to Israel/Jordan bombed yet again

From Egypt Independent:
February 2011 explosion
The pipeline transporting Egyptian natural gas to Israel has been bombed for the 15th time since the January uprising last year, according to North Sinai Governorate sources.

The explosion, which took place in the Taweel area, 10 km east of Arish city, would appear to confirm that gas exports to Israel have restarted.

The source referred to information about the resumption of gas exports to Israel four days ago.

However, Mohamed Ayyoub, head of the Gasco Company in Arish, denied that exports had restarted, saying the gas inside the pipeline was left from before Egypt had announced it was halting gas exports. According to sources, the company continues to pump gas to keep the equipment efficient but does not pump the gas to Israel.

The blast apparently took place in a depopulated area and was caused by improvised explosive devices. No casualties were reported.
Reuters adds:

The blast occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning at al-Tuwail, east of the coastal Sinai town of al-Arish, at a point before the pipeline splits into separate branches to Israel and Jordan, security officials and witnesses said.

An official in the company that manages the pipeline said exports of gas to both Israel and Jordan had been halted since an explosion that hit the pipeline in April and that the flames were caused by residual gas.

Residents in al-Arish, however, said gas shipments had begun three days ago through the pipeline, which at one point supplied Israel with about 40 percent of its natural gas.

Egypt in April terminated its agreement to supply gas to Israel because of what it said was a business dispute.
Piecing this together, it seems that Egypt never resumed pumping gas to Israel, nor to Jordan, since April. Some testing or maintenance probably occurred a few days ago and Sinai residents assumed that the shipments were resuming, so they arranged for another bombing.

Given that Egyptian officials have been sentenced to prison for selling gas to Israel at low prices, it seems very unlikely that any gas shipments were resuming.

The main party to be impacted by these explosions is not Israel - but Jordan. Jordan was far more dependent on Egyptian gas than Israel was, and it is interesting that this time the pipeline was bombed before the split.

Arabs being hurt by other Arabs isn't news, though.