Egypt and Jordan Sign Pipeline Agreement

Egypt and Jordan will sign a final agreement to build a pipeline to carry Egyptian natural gas to Jordan, the first phase of a distribution project that would cover Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.

It is reported that the accord would be signed at the end of a two-day meeting of the Jordanian-Egyptian higher committee due to start June 4th in the Jordanian capital, Amman. The committee, headed by the Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Obeid and his Jordanian opposite number Ali Abu Al Ragheb, is scheduled to discuss bilateral cooperation in various fields, including natural gas.

The Egyptian cabinet approved a plan to export Egyptian gas via the pipeline for 30 years starting from 2003. Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon signed an agreement in January to transport Egyptian gas from Arish to the Lebanese port of Tripoli under the Mediterranean, which would then be distributed to Jordan and Turkey through Syria.

In March it was agreed to slash the cost by scrapping its main underwater section. In its first stage, the pipeline will now run from an area near Arish in the Sinai peninsula to Jordan through its Red Sea port of Aqaba -- with a small undersea link taking the gas around a short stretch of Israeli territory.

In later stages, it will run to Lebanon and Turkey through Syria. The cost of the whole 850 km (530 mile) line is estimated at $650-$700 million, with the Egypt-Jordan part set to cost around $200-$300 million. Work on the first part is expected to take 18 months.