Israel has announced plans to boost its natural gas exports to Egypt, signaling a strengthening of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The move comes amidst a renewed interest in offshore exploration and a debate over whether the gas should be kept for domestic use.
Israel’s Energy Minister, Israel Katz, made the announcement on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. While he did not provide specific details, Katz emphasized that this expansion of gas exports would increase the state’s revenue and enhance the bilateral relationship between Israel and Egypt.
Egypt, with its population of 105 million, has been facing a growing demand for gas. However, the country has experienced a decline in gas production between January and May, with a 9 percent decrease compared to the previous year and a 12 percent drop when compared to the same period in 2021. As a result, Egypt has been grappling with power shortages, especially during heatwaves when demand for cooling increases.
In approving the increase in gas exports to Egypt, Minister Katz ensured that supplies for Israel’s domestic use were guaranteed. While Israel has discovered significant gas deposits off its Mediterranean coast in the past 15 years, the government has enacted limits to ensure sufficient supply for the local market in the future.
This issue has been a subject of heated debate for several years, and it gained fresh attention recently when Israel’s budget director warned about the risks associated with excessive gas exports, which could endanger the country’s energy security.
Israel’s decision to boost gas exports to Egypt is significant for multiple reasons. Firstly, it helps meet Egypt’s increasing gas demand, which is crucial for powering the country’s economy and meeting the needs of its large population. Additionally, the move strengthens the diplomatic ties between Israel and Egypt, two key players in the Middle East region.
From an economic perspective, the increased gas exports will enhance the state’s revenue for Israel. This additional income can be utilized for various purposes, including investment in infrastructure, social programs, and other developmental projects.
Israeli public advocacy groups have raised concerns about the potential consequences of increasing domestic demand for gas and heightened offshore activity in Israel.
They have warned that these factors could result in gas shortages within the country. Additionally, the groups have highlighted the possibility of environmental damage associated with increased offshore activity.
In 2022, Israeli energy companies produced a significant amount of natural gas, reaching a total of 21.29 billion cubic meters. However, only 9.21 billion cubic meters of this was exported to Egypt and Jordan.
Egypt itself is actively seeking a regional supply role, aiming to sell its own gas and re-export Israeli gas as liquefied natural gas to various destinations in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.
This dynamic further adds to the concerns regarding potential gas shortages in Israel and raises questions about the impact on the environment as more gas is extracted offshore.
Agencies contributed to this report