Israel, Egypt and five other governments have announced the formation of a regional organization devoted to the development of natural gas resources in Cairo, Reuters reported  on Monday.
A statement from Egypt’s petroleum minister stated the governments would “create a regional gas market that serves the interests of its members by ensuring supply and demand, optimizing resource development, rationalizing the cost of infrastructure, offering competitive prices and improving trade relations.”
Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority are also involved in the new organization.
The goal of the multinational effort, according to Reuters, is to “transform the Eastern Mediterranean into a major energy hub.”
The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum will use existing infrastructure and build new facilities to handle current and future gas discoveries. The overall goal, according to the statement, would be “the establishment of a sustainable partnership between the actors at all stages of the gas industry.”
Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Dr. Yuval Steinitz made  the first visit of an Israeli minister to Egypt since 2011 for the announcement of the forum.
“I thank the Egyptian Minister of Petroleum for the invitation to visit Cairo,” Steinitz said, referring to Tarek El-Molla. “This is further proof that developing our offshore gas fields not only has economic and environmental results but also has major diplomatic and geopolitical significance. We are talking about the most significant ever economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel since the peace agreement was signed.”
In February of last year, Egypt signed  a $15 billion deal to buy natural gas from an Israeli company. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi said that his country “scored a goal” in making the deal.
Subsequently, the Israeli energy company, Delek, and several partners bought  a stake in an Israeli-Egyptian gas pipeline for $518 million.
Separately, Israel’s natural gas discoveries have led  to improving ties between the Jewish State and Greece and Cyprus.
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