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Egypt to begin gas imports from Israel by mid-Jan 2020

CAIRO/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Egypt will begin importing natural gas from Israel by mid-January 2020, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio on Sunday.

"(The exports) will begin in the middle of next month and perhaps even earlier," he said.

Israeli gas exports to Egypt will gradually reach 7 billion cubic metres, a senior industry source, who earlier in the day disclosed a mid-January starting date, said on condition of anonymity.

Steinitz said Egyptian petroleum minister Tarek El Molla had spoken to him two days ago and congratulated him on signing export permits for the gas.

Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings reached a landmark deal last year with the Israeli companies operating the Israeli fields Leviathan and Tamar.

In October, the Israeli companies said they were increasing the amount of natural gas they plan to export to Egypt. One source in the Israeli energy industry estimated the value of gas was now $19.5 billion - $14 billion coming from Leviathan and $5.5 billion from Tamar.

Israel's energy ministry gave its final approval for the start of production at the giant Leviathan field three days ago after a court lifted a temporary injunction granted over environmental concerns.

A spokesman for Egypt's petroleum ministry said he could not provide any information on the matter.


(Reporting by Ahmed Ismail; Additional reporting and writing by Yousef Saba and Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and David Evans)