An Israeli official on Monday dismissed fears of power cuts after a bomb attack on an Egyptian pipeline halted the flow of gas to the Jewish state for the third time since February.
“At the moment there is no supply of gas from Egypt,” national infrastructures ministry spokeswoman Maya Etzioni told AFP.
“(But) we are prepared, as always, with alternative solutions, with alternative supplies. There’s gas from Yam Thetis,” she said in reference to an Israeli offshore gas field.
Egypt supplies about 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas, which is used to produce electricity. After the February attack, Israel allowed power stations to use fuel oil or coal in order to avoid blackouts and a drop in the production of electricity.
Israeli security sources said they received intelligence about 10 days ago that a global Jihadist group was planning to hit the Sinai pipeline, but added it was too early to say if the organization, which they did not name, was behind Monday morning’s attack.
The two previous attacks were believed to be work of disgruntled Bedouins in northern Sinai during the mass protests that toppled the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak, they said.
This time, however, the attackers were believed to have come from the Gaza Strip, they said, without elaborating.
Officials said a car had parked near the pipeline in the Bir al-Abd area, 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) from the northern Sinai town of El-Arish, shortly before the explosion.
They said the bomb was activated remotely.
North Sinai governor Abdel Wahab Mabrouk condemned the bombing as “terrorist act meant to jeopardize the stability and security of Sinai,” the official MENA news agency quoted him as saying.
A second device was found near the bomb blast “but the army has dealt with it before it exploded,” said Magdi Tawfiq, the head of the Egyptian Natural Gas Company (GASCO).
The explosion triggered a blaze that took firefighters at least seven hours to extinguish.
Although Yam Thetis is nearing depletion Israel is accelerating efforts to bring its Tamar and Leviathan fields online, and last week an Israeli energy company said it had discovered two more offshore fields.
In Jordan, Energy Ministry officials said they have been in contact with their Egyptian counterparts to assess the damage and the time needed to repair the gas pipeline.
Egyptian gas supplies to Jordan through the pipeline were expected to double Monday from 50 million cubic feet daily to 100 million cubic feet, according to the official Petra news agency.
In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel “trusts Egyptian authorities to investigate what happened and to ensure such things do not happen again in the future.”
(Sara Ghasemilee, a senior editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)