A pipeline carrying gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan has been hit, on Monday 07/04/2011, by an explosion in the Sinai Peninsula (see also – .El-Arish 02.05.11 ).

The explosion sent flames into the sky, but there were no immediate reports of casualties. Emergency services were deployed to control the fire. The blast took place at a pumping station along the pipeline at Nagah, in the Bir Abd region, sources told the Reuters news agency.

The news agency quoted an official as saying that men armed with machine guns came in a small truck and forced guards at the station to leave before planting explosive charges.

Gasco, the company which operates the pipeline, shut it down after the explosion.

This is the third attack on Egyptian gas pipelines since an uprising overthrew Hosni Mubarak, the country’s president, and saw power being handed over to the military. The first two took place on 02/05/2011 (see -El-Arish 02.05.11) and 04/27/2011. There was also a failed attempt to attack the pipeline in March.

Egypt supplies about 40 per cent of Israel’s natural gas, where it is used mainly to generate electricity. In December 2010, four Israeli firms signed 20-year contracts worth up to $10 billion to import Egyptian gas.

Jordan, meanwhile, imports about 6.8 million cubic meters of Egyptian gas every day, accounting for 80 per cent of its electricity requirements. Jordan, which buys 95% of its energy needs, imports about 6.8 million cubic meters of Egyptian gas a day, or 80% of its electricity requirements.

In April, Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf asked for the revision of all contracts to supply gas abroad, including to Israel.

It is not clear whether the explosion was an attack of Sinai’s Bedouin tribesmen, who opposes the Egyptian administration over the weapon smuggling to Gaza Strip through Rafah Tunnels, which is a major source of income for the Bedouins in Sinai (see – Zuwayed 04.10.09), or Hamas supporters who were targeting energy supply to Israel or both. Anyhow the attack emphasizes once again the weakness on the interim Egyptian administration.
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