UPDATE 1-Leak in Egypt gas pipe halts Israel supply again

JERUSALEM, March 14 Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:53am EDT

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JERUSALEM, March 14 (Reuters) - Natural gas supply from Egypt to Israel and neighbouring countries has been halted again due to discovery of a leak, an Israeli partner in the East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) consortium said on Monday.

Gas supply to Israeli customers was set to resume on Monday after completion of repair work and testing of the pipeline that was damaged in an explosion and fire on Feb. 5, Ampal-American Israel Corp AMPL.O AMPL.TA said in a statement.

It initially was slated to resume on March 4 but was delayed several times.

"While resuming commercial gas supply by GASCO (the Egyptian gas transport company) to EMG and its Israeli customers, a leak was discovered when the gas pressure exceeded 60 bars," Ampal said.

"The GASCO field team is currently working to repair the leak in its system. Consequently, commercial gas supply to Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as well as to major Egyptian cement industries and power gas consumers in the Sinai Peninsula awaits completion of repair." [ID:nBw146277a]

Egyptian state television and local government officials had reported saboteurs blew 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 led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

EMG is owned by Egyptian businessman Hussain Salem, Egypt Natural Gas Co, Thailand's PTT, American businessman Sam Zell, Ampal-American and Israel's Merhav.

EMG supplies 45 percent of the gas needs of Israel's electric utility. The rest comes from off Israeli shores. (Reporting by Steven Scheer, editing by Anthony Barker)

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