Israel will start exporting more natural gas to Egypt, its top energy official said on Wednesday, a move that will further cooperation between the two countries and may help alleviate Egypt’s electricity issues.
Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz said that the country will increase exports to Egypt by an additional 38.7 billion cubic meters (bcm) over the next 11 years. Production from Israel’s Tamar gas field in the Mediterranean Sea will also increase by 6 bcm per year starting in 2026 — a 60% increase from current levels, according to multiple reports.
Egypt did not immediately comment.
Why it matters: Egypt began importing Israeli gas in 2020 and imports have risen considerably since then. Last year, Egypt imported a record 6.27 bcm of natural gas from Israel. This was an increase of 48.5% from the year prior, according to the Joint Organizations Data Initiative, which tracks global energy statistics.
The cooperation is continuing despite Egyptian criticism of the Israeli government's conflict with the Palestinians. For example, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir for visiting the contested Temple Mount (al-Haram al-Sharif) holy site in Jerusalem last month.
Israel will need to boost gas production in order to achieve its goal of exporting gas to Europe, while also managing concerns over domestic energy security, David Rosenberg wrote in a memo for Al-Monitor PRO this month.
Relatedly, Egypt and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union in 2022 in order to boost gas exports to the continent. This came in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Europe’s subsequent efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
Natural gas production is declining in Egypt, in part due to water infiltration issues at its Zohr gas field. Moreover, Egypt has experienced government-mandated electricity cuts this summer in response to high temperatures. Egypt uses natural gas for domestic power, and also seeks to export more to Europe. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2022 that Egypt is seeking to reduce the amount of natural gas used for electricity in order to export more gas abroad.
Egypt’s natural gas exports amounted to $8.4 billion in 2022. Reuters reported that less than 70% of Egypt’s gas exports went to Europe last year.
Know more: In June, Israel approved a plan to work with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to develop a gas field off the coast of the Gaza Strip.