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Israel, Egypt and the European Union signed a natural gas deal Wednesday that would provide Europe with an energy source as the bloc works to replace the Russian supplies it has relied on for years, the Washington Post reported.
The trilateral deal would allow Israel to streamline and expand its natural gas exports through existing pipelines to Egyptian ports, where it would be compressed and liquefied before being delivered to Europe.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the agreement would contribute to energy security, and help the EU “to move away from Russia and diversify to trustworthy suppliers.”
Israeli officials noted that the deal will make Israel “a significant player” in the energy market. Israel and a number of Middle Eastern countries are working to increase output to Europe amid rising demand and surging prices.
Still, analysts cautioned that Israel’s provisions will not come close to what Russia has previously supplied: They noted that Israel produces nearly 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year, even though it’s believed to hold at least double that amount in unexploited reserves.
In 2021, the EU imported 155 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia, making up about 45 percent of the bloc’s gas imports.
Observers added that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the energy sanctions on Moscow have prompted the EU to implement a “fragmented strategy,” in which it will buy smaller amounts of energy from a number of different countries.
Wednesday’s export agreement comes as the Nord Stream pipeline, the main gateway of gas to the EU, reduced output by 40 percent due to repairs, raising already high natural gas prices by 15 percent.