Egypt Judiciary Halts Gas Exports To IOA

Egypt Judiciary Halts Gas Exports To IOA

Administrative Judiciary Court decided on Tuesday to halt the government decision of exporting natural gas to Israel. The ruling might motivate similar lawsuits against exporting gas to other countries.

The Higher Administrative Court approved a contest filed by a group of lawyers opposing the decision of exporting gas to Israel.

Ambassador Ibrahim Yousry, former MP Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat, and scores of Egyptians brought a judicial suit before the administrative judiciary of the State Council calling for stopping Petroleum Minister”s decision of exporting natural gas to Israel.

They based their case on many reasons including: The government signs the exportation agreement at extremely lower prices than global rates; Egypt is in need for the exported gas, so the Egyptian people should make use of it rather than exporting it to Israel; Israel has never respected any agreements with any Arab state, especially after the recent massacres and siege in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The respondents indicated that Egypt signed an agreement with Israel on the exportation of 7bln cubic meters of natural gas to Israel for 15 renewable years at extremely low rate less than $1.25 although the market value exceeds $9. Further, Egyptian government recently decided to hike fuel prices in the local market.

Dr. Mufid Shihab, Minister of State for Legal and Parliamentary Councils, stressed that the Egyptian government did not export gas to Israel. Natural gas reaches Israel through private companies and that the government had no role other than preparing pipelines going across many countries, he said.

Shihab refused to disclose the rate at which Israel obtains the Egyptian gas and said that rates are not $1.5 per million British thermal unit. He said prices are more than local rates used for houses and heavily- powered factories. Cost is more likely to increase by the end of 2009 but will not reach $2.5 according to MENA.

Shihab indicated that exportation contracts include secret information along the agreement span which cannot be disclosed unless under both parties” approval. This item exists in all gas export agreements, he said.

This agreement was concluded in 2005 between the Middle East Gas Company and Egypt on the exportation of 7bln cubic meters of natural gas to Israel for 15 renewable years at $0.07 maximum per cubic foot.

Actual gas pumping reached Israel through the eastern pipelines extended from AL-Arish city to Asqalan at $470mln cost.

This agreement inspired headed argumentations within Egypt; especially after realizing that export rates are less than the local ones.

Egyptian Islamists, leftists, and nationalists oppose the exportation of the Egyptian gas to Israel that launched four wars against Egypt during 1973-1984 before signing the Peace Agreement in 1979.