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Israel-Egypt gas pipeline deal seen imminent

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A deal that would transfer control of a natural gas pipeline between Israel and Egypt is expected to be closed in the next few days, the companies said on Sunday.

Texas-based Noble Energy, Israel's Delek Drilling and Egyptian East Gas Co have partnered in a venture called EMED, which last year agreed to buy a 39% stake in the subsea EMG pipeline for $518 million that will carry Israeli gas exports to Egypt.

In a regulatory filing in Tel Aviv, Delek said the shares have already been transferred to the buyers while the funds are currently being held in a trust and that the transaction should be completed in the coming days.

Partners in Israel's Leviathan and Tamar offshore gas fields had agreed to sell $15 billion worth of gas to a customer in Egypt -- Dolphinus Holdings -- but last month the deal was amended to boost supply by 34% to about 85 billion cubic meters, or an estimated $20 billion.

Noble and Delek are key partners in both Leviathan -- which is set to start production in the coming weeks -- and Tamar.

To buy into EMG, which owns the 90 km subsea pipeline between Ashkelon in Israel and El-Arish in Egypt, the three partners formed a joint company called EMED.



(Reporting by Steven Scheer)