February 6, 2011 / 12:16 PM / 9 years ago

Fire at Egypt metering station caused gas cut to Israel-company

* Netanyahu plays down impact of explosion on Israel

* Pipeline partner: gas supply expected to resume in a week

* Security source in Egypt blames foreign elements for blast

By Tova Cohen

TEL AVIV, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Gas supplies from Egypt to Israel could resume within a week after a fire at a gas metering station, an Israeli partner in the pipeline said on Sunday, without referring to sabotage as reported in Egypt.

Egyptian state television and local government officials said on Saturday saboteurs had blown up a pipeline that runs through Egypt’s North Sinai, disrupting flows to Israel and Jordan after Islamists called on militants to exploit the unrest that has rocked the government.

Jordan has said it expects supplies to remain halted for a week.

A security source in North Sinai said “foreign elements” targeted the branch of the pipe that supplies Jordan.

Ampal-American Israel Corp, a holding company with a 12.5 percent interest in East Mediterranean Gas Co (EMG), which owns the pipeline, said that according to EMG, “a metering station in a gas pipeline from Egypt to Jordan caught fire”. Ampal did not attribute the fire to an attack.

“Contrary to some media reports, EMG’s gas pipeline from El-Arish, Egypt to Ashkelon, Israel is intact, and was not damaged by the explosion at a gas metering station in Egypt yesterday,” Ampal said in a statement.

“The supply of gas to EMG, and therefore to EMG’s Israeli clients, has been interrupted by a fire in a facility not related to EMG. The gas supply to EMG is expected to resume within a week.”

At a meeting of his cabinet on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Israel is prepared for these kinds of scenarios and there is an immediate option to turn to alternative sources of energy.

“No problems with gas supply are expected in Israel,” he said in public remarks at the start of the session in Jerusalem.

The metering station is owned and operated by Gasco, the Egyptian gas transport company, which is a subsidiary of EGAS, the Egyptian national gas company.

Gasco’s station is not a part of the EMG pipeline system and is located 30 km (18.6 miles) away from EMG’s site.

“Ampal has been advised by EMG, that due to the fire, EGAS has initiated its standard shut down procedure affecting gas transportation throughout the Sinai Peninsula, including Gasco’s pipeline to EMG’s site, in order to suffocate the fire in Gasco’s Station and cool down the system,” the statement said.

“Contrary to initial media reports neither EMG’s site nor EMG’s pipeline were damaged.” (Reporting by Tova Cohen, editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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