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Israel's Delek hopes gas exports to Egypt to start in June

JERUSALEM, June 2 (Reuters) - Israel's Delek Drilling hopes to begin commercial sales of natural gas to Egypt by the end of the month, a senior company executive said on Sunday.

Delek Drilling and its partner Noble Energy signed a landmark deal early last year to export $15 billion in natural gas from Israeli offshore fields Tamar and Leviathan to a customer in Egypt.

Israeli officials called it the most significant deal to emerge since the neighbors made peace in 1979.

The partners then bought into the subsea EMG pipeline between Ashkelon in Israel and El-Arish in Egypt to transport the gas supplies.

"We are continuing the technical testing of the pipeline as planned, and hope we will be able to deliver natural gas commercially to Egypt by the end of June," Yossi Gvura, Delek Drilling's deputy CEO, told Reuters.

The Tamar field began producing gas in 2013 and Leviathan is expected to come online by the end of 2019.

Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist reported on Sunday that the Tamar partners had begun final preparations on the 90-km (56 mile) pipeline, sending through initial amounts of gas with a probe known as a "pig".

Delek, which is a subsidiary of Israeli energy conglomerate Delek Group, declined to comment on the report. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, Editing by William Maclean)