Importing Israeli Natural Gas Makes Sense for Egypt

Israel’s Tamar drilling platform.

Photograph: Albatross via Getty Images

The discovery of Egypt’s giant Zohr gas field in August 2015 was heralded as the solution to the country’s energy problems. So why did Egypt cut a deal this year to import natural gas from Israel, its former enemy?

Dolphinus Holdings, a private Egyptian company, agreed Feb. 19 to buy gas from Noble Energy and its partners from Israel’s two largest offshore fields, Leviathan and Tamar. The controversial accord is but the latest chapter in an Egyptian gas saga that has gone from triumph to tragedy to tentative renaissance.

Egypt’s problems with gas were long in the making. In 2006, Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy received complaints from oil companies that low regulated gas prices were making new developments unviable, while new industries gobbled up supplies. Investment dried up and production plummeted after the 2011 revolution.

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