By Ari Rabinovitch and Ron Bousso
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Chevron has halted natural gas exports through a major subsea pipeline between Israel and Egypt and is supplying gas via an alternative pipeline through Jordan, the company said on Tuesday.
The decision to halt exports via the East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) pipeline came as fighting has intensified between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip.
“Following the instruction by the Ministry of Energy to shut-in production at the Tamar Production Platform and the security situation in the south of Israel, all exports to Egypt have been re-routed via the FAJR pipeline,” which links Jordan to Egypt, a spokesperson said.
The EMG pipeline runs from the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon, located some 10 kilometres north of Gaza, to El-Arish in Egypt, where it connects to an onshore pipeline.
The 90-kilometer pipeline is the main link between the Chevron-operated Leviathan offshore gas field and Egypt. The Leviathan consortium includes operator Chevron, Israel’s NewMed Energy and Ratio Energies.
Israel’s energy ministry confirmed in a statement to Reuters that Chevron had requested to export gas through an alternative pipeline that links Leviathan to Jordan as well as Egypt, known as the Arab Gas Pipeline.
On Monday, Israel suspended production at the Tamar gas field off its southern coast three days after violence erupted in the wake of a surprise attack by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip on Israel.
Separately, energy industry sources said the amount of gas exported from Israel’s giant Leviathan field to Egypt has been slightly reduced as supplies to the domestic market are prioritized, but remains close to the quota.
Leviathan has been exporting higher volumes to Egypt than committed under sales agreements for several weeks, the sources said.
“Every molecule we export, we first check it is not needed in the Israeli market,” one source said.
(Reporting by Ron Bousso and Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Jan Harvey and David Gregorio)