Natural gas supply to Israel cut off after blast at Egyptian terminal

JERUSALEM — Egypt temporarily suspended its natural gas supply to Israel as a security precaution after an explosion at a terminal in the northern Sinai Peninsula, Israel radio said Saturday.

The Egyptian regional governor told Nile News TV that he suspected “sabotage” at the el-Arish gas terminal but did not elaborate, the Associated Press reported. The blast set off a fire that could be seen for dozens of miles.

Gov. Abdel Wahab Mabrouk said the fire was brought under control by mid-morning, the AP reported. Technicians had to shut off valves controlling the flow of gas from the terminal into pipelines transporting gas to Israel, Syria and Jordan.

Israeli radio said the explosion damaged a pipeline to Jordan, not to Israel, but the supply to Israel was cut off as a temporary precaution.

In recent days, Israelis have worried about the possibility of a cutoff of natural gas shipments from Egypt as a result of the turmoil and political uncertainty there.

“Following the pipeline explosion in [Egypt], the security establishment has taken steps to beef up security at all installations related to the supply of gas to Israel,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s office said in a statement Saturday.

Israel’s main electricity company said service to homes would not be interrupted.

Egypt sells Israel 60 billion cubic feet a year under a 15-year deal that started in February 2008, according to the AP

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