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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen looks on as EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson (L), Egyptian Minister of Petroleum Tarek el-Molla(C), and Israeli Minister of Energy Karine Elharrar (R) sign a trilateral natural gas deal
The European Union wants to strengthen its energy cooperation with Israel and Egypt in light of Russia's invasion of UkraineImage: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

EU, Egypt, Israel sign gas deal to curb dependence on Russia

June 15, 2022

"What a special moment," European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said after signing the gas memorandum. Europe is looking for alternate sources of energy since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


The European Union, Egypt and Israel on Wednesday signed a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding for the export of natural gas to European countries.

The deal which was signed in Cairo will help reduce the bloc's energy dependence on Russia amid the Ukraine invasion.

"What a special moment,'' European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a joint briefing.

The three parties aim to build infrastructure "fit for renewables — the energy of the future," von der Leyen said in a tweet. 

What do we know about the deal?

According to the memorandum, the three parties will work together to get a stable supply and delivery of natural gas to the European market.

"Natural gas from Israel, Egypt and other sources in the Eastern Mediterranean region will be shipped to Europe via Egypt's LNG (liquid natural gas) export infrastructure," the EU said in a statement.

This would be done in line with "long-term decarbonization objectives” and would be based on market-related prices, the EU said.

The EU would also help Egypt and Israel increase gas production and exploration in their respective territorial waters.

Last year, the EU imported around 40% of its gas from Russia. The invasion of Ukraine prompted a sharp change in EU policy which meant seeking alternate sources of energy.

The bloc has now outlined measures to drastically reduce Russian gas imports with a view to being fully independent of Russian fossil fuels before 2030.

Germany seeks alternatives to Russian gas in Middle East

Israel and Egypt's warming relations

There has been a gradual improvement of relations between Egypt and Israel over the years.

There are two operational gas fields off Israel's Mediterranean coast with nearly 700 billion cubic meters (24.7 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas, and has existing gas export deals with Egypt and Jordan.

Egypt's Petroleum Minister Tarek el-Molla described the deal as "an important milestone" for cooperation between Egypt, Israel, and the EU.

Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also welcomed the deal in a Twitter post saying: "For the first time in history, Israel will cooperate with Egypt, and export blue-and-white natural gas to the European Union." 

Blue hydrogen occurs when carbon generated is captured and stored underground as part of a process of industrial carbon capture and storage, and is sometimes referred to as carbon neutral since the emissions do not end up in the atmosphere. White hydrogen is found in underground deposits and created through fracking.

kb/dj (AP,dpa)

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