For the fourth time this year, saboteurs blew up an Egyptian pipeline distribution station in northern Sinai on Tuesday that supplies natural gas to Israel.
MENA, the official Egyptian news agency, quoted witnesses as saying that the assailants attacked a security guard post protecting the station, which is located near the northern town of Al Arish. A security guard and some members of his family were injured, the agency said.
“The area is being searched to find those behind this explosion and to find the type of explosives used,” MENA said.
Previous attacks struck the pipeline on April 27 and February 5 and forced its closure for several weeks.
Egypt supplies about 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas, which the country uses to produce electricity.
Jordan, which imports 95 percent of its energy needs, buys about 240 million cubic feet of Egyptian gas a day, or 80 percent of its electricity requirements.
Egypt’s Nile television reported that flames from the burning station could be seen as far as 12 miles. It provided no details on the causes of the explosion or the extent of the damage.
MENA said the station pumps gas to another station in an area called Sheikh Zwayed, which exports the commodity to Israel. The agency earlier reported that the station was used to “export Egyptian gas abroad.”
In April, Egypt’s prime minister, Essam Sharaf, ordered a review of all foreign gas contracts, including those with Israel.
Mr. Sharaf said the contracts would be revisited so the gas “would be sold with deserved prices that achieve the highest returns for Egypt.”
The gas deal with Israel has been repeatedly challenged in Egyptian courts because it was agreed upon without parliamentary consultation.
In May, Jordan said Egypt was withholding its gas supply until a new deal was signed at a higher price.
Under a 14-year contract signed in 2002, Egypt agreed to sell gas to Jordan at a discounted price – half of the market price, or $3 per 1 million British Thermal Units (1,000 cubic feet of gas equals 1.027 million BTU).
(Dina Al-Shibeeb, a senior editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)