World Bulletin/News Desk
The Egyptian government has denied recent claims that it was in talks with Israel over the possible import of natural gas from the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
Egypt had showed an interest in buying gas from Israel, Israeli Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom said Tuesday.
"If it turns out that they do want gas and that these things are real, I see no reason why not to [sell it]," Shalom was quoted as saying by the Israeli media.
"When it [the request] reaches us, we will examine the details," he added.
However, Taher Abdel-Rehim, chairman of the state-run Egyptian Gas Holding Company (EGAS), which runs Egypt's gas pipeline network, dismissed the claim.
"The Israeli minister's allegations are untrue," Abdel-Rehim told Anadolu Agency, stressing that no talks were currently underway "at any level" between Egypt and Israel over potential energy deals.
"The Egyptian government seeks to import liquefied gas through the bid made by EGAS," the official said, noting that Israel did not have any gas liquefaction plants.
Egypt produces 5.7 billion cubic meters of gas per day, about 0.5 billion cubic meters less than total daily demand. The shortfall has pushed the government to approach major gas companies for possible imports.
An Egyptian Petroleum Ministry official, for his part, said that the Israeli minister's statements were aimed at undermining Egypt's bid to import gas.
Israel has recently discovered large amounts of natural gas off the Mediterranean coast, which it hopes to export.
On Monday, Israel's Supreme Court rejected petitions lodged by opposition parties against a government decision to allow some 40 percent of the country's natural gas to be sold to foreign buyers.
The petitions assert that the government lacks the authority to bypass the Knesset (Israel's parliament) and take such strategic decisions.
Finance Minister and Yesh Atid Party Chairman Yair Lapid recently said that Israel's offshore gas exports were expected to generate some $60 billion in revenue over the next 20 years.Last Mod: 23 Ekim 2013, 14:18