Plans to start exporting gas from Israel to Egypt are on track but further steps are still needed before exports can commence, Egyptian petroleum minister Tarek El Molla said on Monday.
"Everything is agreed on ... countries (involved) have already given their blessings. There is no issue in that," Molla told reporters during an energy conference in UAE's Abu Dhabi.
"It's a multilateral deal, a gas deal and a pipeline deal so it is a little bit a lengthy process. That's why it is taking a little bit of time."
The gas will be supplied via the East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) subsea pipeline following a landmark $15 billion export deal struck last year.
The pipeline operator has signed a deal to use a terminal belonging to Israel's Europe Asia Pipeline Company (EAPC), one of the final hurdles before starting exports, the companies said on Sunday.
Molla also said Egypt's Damietta liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant would restart operations as planned before the end of the year.
The plant in northern Egypt has been idled for years due to lack of gas supply amid a dispute with Union Fenosa Gas (UFG), a joint venture between Spain's Gas Natural and Italy's Eni.
Damietta is 80% owned by UFG, with the remaining 20% split evenly between the state-owned Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation.
Egypt's gas production will rise by next year to around 7.5 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day from 7 bcf per day for the current year, the minister said, with priority to meet domestic needs rather than exports.
(Reporting by Dahlia Nehme and Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Lisa Shumaker)
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