Sisi Says That with Egypt-Israel Natural Gas Deal His Country “Scored a Goal”

Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, declared on Wednesday that his country “scored a goal” by signing a $15 billion deal with an Israeli company to supply natural gas, The Times of Israel reported.

Sisi said in televised comments that the project “has a lot of advantages” for Egyptians and will help turn the country into a regional energy hub. “I want people to be reassured,” he added.

The Egyptian government was not directly involved in the deal, but “provided several things to … achieve this deal,” Sissi explained. “By taking this decision, we scored a big goal.”

Delek Drilling and its U.S. partner, Noble Energy, signed the agreement on Monday to sell a total of 64 billion cubic meters of gas over a 10-year period to Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings. The project is set to launch next year.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, described the deal with the Egyptian firm as “historic” and said it would yield billions the state can invest in education, health and welfare.

In addition, the partners said they signed an accord for the sale of natural gas from Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan natural gas fields, for a total of 32 BCM and some $7.5 billion.

Several routes for shipping the gas from Israel to Egypt are under consideration, with an existing pipeline between Jordan and Egypt as the strong contender. Egypt in the past supplied Israel with gas, but that pipeline was sabotaged repeatedly by Islamist extremists in the Sinai Peninsula.

Yossi Abu, chief executive of Delek Drilling, called the deal “great news” for both Israel and Egypt. “I think that the main thing is that Egypt is becoming the real gas hub of the region,” he said.

In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to make peace with Israel. However, economic relations between the two countries have been controversial in Egypt, where popular support for Palestinians runs high.

[Photo: CNBC / YouTube]