Militants hit gas pipeline in Egypt's Sinai

The gas pipeline was a domestic one - powering homes and factories in central Sinai.
The gas pipeline was a domestic one - powering homes and factories in central Sinai.
Image: 123RF/Andrea Danti

Militants blew up a gas pipeline Sunday in Egypt's restive Sinai Peninsula, security sources said.

The masked gunmen drove a four-wheel drive before detonating explosives in the attack, carried out around 80 kilometers west of the provincial capital El-Arish, the sources told AFP.

No casualties or injuries have so far been reported and no group has claimed responsibility.

According to sources, the gas pipeline hit was a domestic one that connects to a power station in El-Arish, powering homes and factories in central Sinai.

Some media reports in Egypt and Israel however said the section of pipeline hit was part of Israel's Leviathan offshore field that connects the two countries -- claims denied to AFP by the Leviathan consortium.

Israel began pumping natural gas to Egypt for the first time earlier this month under a $15 billion, 15-year landmark deal deal to liquefy it and re-export it to Europe.

The Islamic State group last week encouraged its fighters to launch "a new phase" and vowed major operations against Israel.

Egypt's Petroleum Ministry did not react to a request for comment.

One of the two offshore fields managed by Israeli and American firms in the deal, Leviathan is estimated to hold 535 billion cubic metres (18.9 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas, along with 34.1 million barrels of condensate.

Egypt has previously exported gas to Israel but land sections of the export pipeline were targeted multiple times by Sinai militants in 2011 and 2012.

It hopes the recently inked deal will position it to become a regional gas hub.

The country has for years been fighting a hardened insurgency in North Sinai that escalated after the military's 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests.

In February 2018, the army and police launched a nationwide operation against militants focused on North Sinai. 

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