UPDATED: EU, Israel and Egypt sign deal to boost East Med gas exports to Europe

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CAIRO/JERUSALEM, June 15 (Reuters) – Israel and Egypt will aim to boost natural gas exports to Europe under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on Wednesday as the continent looks to replace Russian energy imports.

The framework deal signed with the European Union (EU) will be the first to allow “significant” exports of Israeli gas to Europe, Israel’s energy ministry said.

Under the agreement, the EU will encourage European companies to participate in Israeli and Egyptian exploration tenders, the ministry said.

Some Israeli gas is already sent by pipeline to liquefaction plants on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, from where it is re-exported as liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Officials say they expect shipments of LNG from Egypt to Europe to increase under the agreement, though they have said it would likely take a couple of years before the exports can be significantly expanded.

Egypt is also a gas producer, but its exports have been limited by rising domestic demand.

“Today Egypt and Israel make a commitment to share our natural gas with Europe and to help with the energy crisis,” Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said after the signing of the MoU in Cairo.

The agreement recognises that natural gas will have a central role in the EU’s energy market until 2030.

Following that, the use of natural gas is expected to decline in line with its commitment becoming a zero-emission economy by 2050.

Photo: from left to right  European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Egyptian Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources Tarek El Molla, and Israeli Minister of National Infrastructures Karine Elharrar Harststein. EC Audiovisual Service

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