UPDATE 1-Ampal launches arbitration over Egypt gas halt

Tue May 31, 2011 1:21pm EDT

Related Topics

* Gas supplies from Egypt to Israel stopped over a month ago

* Ampal joins other int'l shareholders in arbitration

* Claims against Egypt could be "in excess of $8 bln" -CEO

(Adds Ampal CEO comment, background)

JERUSALEM, May 31 (Reuters) - Ampal American Israel Corp AMPL.TAAMPL.O has started international arbitration proceedings over the halt in gas flow from Egypt to Israel, a statement from the company said on Tuesday.

Gas supplies to Israel have been halted for more than a month following explosions on Egypt's side of the pipeline in the wake of the country's political turmoil and ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Ampal has joined EGI-Fund, PTT International and other international shareholders in formal steps toward arbitration under a U.S.-Egypt bilateral treaty for investment protection, the statement said.

Ampal, along with Egyptian businessman Hussain Salem, Egypt Natural Gas Co, Thailand's PTT, American businessman Sam Zell, chairman of EGI and Israel's Merhav, owns East Mediterranean Gas Co (EMG), exporter of Egyptian natural gas to Israel.

Ampal CEO Yosef Maiman said he hoped EMG would not have to pursue litigation against the government of Egypt for claims "which could be in excess of $8 billion".

Israel receives natural gas from Egypt under a 20-year deal signed in 2005. (Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Will Waterman)

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