By John Ikani
Egypt, Israel and the European Union (EU) have signed a provisional deal for the export of natural gas at an energy conference in Cairo.
The framework agreement was signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, and Israeli Minister of Energy Karine Elharrar, during the ministerial meeting of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) in Cairo.
The Memorandum of Understanding is aimed at lessening the EU’s reliance on gas from Russia.
The Israeli gas is expected to be sent to liquefaction plants in Egypt and then shipped north to markets in Europe.
The Israeli energy ministry says it will allow significant exports of Israeli gas to Europe for the first time.
“What a special moment,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a joint news conference alongside the Egyptian and Israeli energy ministers. “I very warmly welcome the signing of this historic agreement.”
Last year, the EU imported roughly 40 percent of its gas from Russia. Countries have been struggling to reduce that dependency in order to sanction Russia over its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Established in 2020 as an international organization headquartered in Cairo, EMGF focuses on developing a sustainable regional gas market and strengthening cooperation through systematic dialogue and formulation of regional policies on natural gas. The forum comprises Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, and Israel.
Egypt achieved self-sufficiency of natural gas three years after discovering the Zohr gas field in 2015. As Egypt’s largest gas discovery in the Mediterranean, Zohr is an offshore natural gas field located in the Egyptian sector of the Mediterranean Sea, representing 40 percent of Egypt’s total gas output.