- Egypt and Israel are seeking once again to increase the volume of gas supplies between them to an unprecedented level in the history of trade relations between the two countries, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the possibility of increasing gas supplies, without addressing the volume or value of quantities.

The two countries, according to observers and experts, are seeking to take advantage of the political rapprochement that has recently culminated in increasing the volume of trade exchange in the field of natural gas after the huge discoveries of gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, which herald long-term tensions due to differences between some countries over the demarcation of maritime borders. .

On the sidelines of the meetings of the Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo - last Thursday - Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El Molla and Israeli Energy Minister Karen Al-Harr signed a memorandum of understanding for the possibility of increasing gas supplies for "re-export", according to a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum.

Egypt chaired the sixth ministerial meeting of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, which was held in Cairo with the participation of the ministers of Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Jordan, and representatives from foreign countries attended. Cyprus was chosen to chair the forum next year.

The speech of the Israeli Minister of Energy - just days before the signing of the memorandum of understanding on Israeli gas supplies - was in contradiction with the statement of the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum, as she said that her country would start pumping more natural gas from an offshore field in northern Israel to Egypt through a pipeline in the first quarter of this year. Next year.

Al-Harr added - in a television interview - that Israeli gas is currently mostly consumed inside Egypt, and there is no movement to pump some of it to export ports in North African countries, without disclosing the size of these supplies.

A common goal

It seems that Egypt and Israel share the same goal, which is to turn into a regional center for trading and trading natural gas, but does the process of receiving and re-exporting natural gas help between them in achieving the common goal, in light of Cairo's assertion that it imports gas for export and Tel Aviv's assertion that it is for domestic consumption.

In this context, oil and energy expert Dr. Nihad Ismail says, “Egyptian official sources say that the goal of importing Israeli gas is to deliver it to gas liquefaction stations and then export it to Europe, but does Egypt really need more natural gas for domestic consumption, knowing that it has achieved sufficiency? It was self-propelled in 2018, and quantities were exported abroad - according to the statements of Minister of Petroleum Tariq El-Molla? This has not been confirmed."

But Ismail did not rule out - in his speech to Al Jazeera Net - that there are political motives behind the process of exchanging natural gas between the two countries.

And the export of Israeli gas to Egypt - adds Ismail - undoubtedly enhances the latter's position as a pivotal important player in the gas field in the eastern Mediterranean region.

The economic and energy expert explained that - also according to El-Molla's statements - Egypt's exports amounted to 1.8 billion cubic feet of liquefied gas per day, and it in turn aspires to be a major center for re-exporting gas after the liquefaction process, and this explains its desire to import Israeli gas, according to the official version.

The oil and gas sector contributes 24% of Egypt's GDP (Al Jazeera)

An Israeli glut of gas and an Egyptian appetite

Israel is considering extending a new overland pipeline to Egypt to rapidly increase its exports of natural gas to it. The pipeline will link the Egyptian and Israeli natural gas networks through the northern Sinai Peninsula, according to the Israeli Ministry of Energy at the end of last month.

Reuters quoted sources familiar with the ongoing discussions at the time as saying that the new pipeline will allow to increase supplies to Egypt by between 3 and 5 billion cubic meters annually, and these supplies will be used to feed the Egyptian electricity network and increase liquefied natural gas exports from Egypt to Europe and Asia, noting that it will cost about 200 million dollars, and it may be ready for operation within 24 months.

Egypt receives about 5 billion cubic meters of Israeli gas annually through a subsea pipeline, thus becoming a major supplier of natural gas to Egypt based on a huge 15-year trade agreement to supply 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas worth about $19 billion in January second 2020.

Egypt's exports of liquefied gas amount to about 1.8 billion cubic feet per day, and during the third quarter of 2021, they jumped to about one million tons, with an increase of about 900% on an annual basis, at the highest global growth rate in that period, while its production ranges between 7 and 7.2 billion cubic feet per day.

The oil and gas sector contributed 24% of the country's GDP in 2019/2020, according to statements by the Egyptian Minister of Petroleum.

Damage to Egyptian national security

The researcher in political economy, development and international relations, Dr. Mustafa Youssef, believes that the self-sufficiency that Egypt achieved in 2018 was temporary;

"Because since that date it has expanded in the use of natural gas, and if it produces about 7 billion cubic feet per day and consumes 6.5 billion cubic feet per day, while the share of the foreign partner is not less than 30%, this means that there is a gap estimated at 1.5 billion cubic feet. After deducting the partner's share.

Egypt announced achieving self-sufficiency in natural gas in 2018, and the volume of consumption doubled more than 20 times, reaching 47 million tons during the last fiscal year, and petroleum agreements were signed with investments of no less than 17 billion dollars within 7 years.

Youssef stressed - in statements to Al Jazeera Net - that Egypt has only two options to bridge the gap, either by buying the foreign partner's share at a preferential price, or importing gas from Israel, or both;

This contradicts the basics of national security, and a strategic mistake against Egyptian economic interests in the long run.

The researcher in political economy believed that Egypt should buy the share of the foreign partner to fill any gap in the consumption of natural gas;

Because buying Israeli gas - even if it re-exports all or part of it - strengthens Israel and supports it economically at the expense of the country's interests and national security, pointing out that Egypt gave Israel the opportunity not to suffocate with the gas it produces and loots from its neighbors.

The average production of natural gas in Egypt is more than 6.8 billion cubic feet, and Minister of Petroleum Tarek El Molla says that all sectors are supplied by 100% and cover the entire needs of the local market, noting that the average domestic consumption of natural gas has reached more than 6 billion feet cube per day.