UDATE 1-Egypt could resell Israeli gas to Europe within months- Israeli minister

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CAIRO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Israeli gas exports to Egypt might be re-exported to Europe via the Idku liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in northern Egypt “in a few months”, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Wednesday.

Steinitz was in Egypt to attend the third meeting of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, and was speaking after Israel started exporting gas to Egypt under a deal worth nearly $20 billion.

Asked in a Reuters interview whether any of the gas initially being exported to Egypt was going to the Idku LNG plant for re-export to Europe, Steinitz said: “Not today, but they think it might take place in a few months’ time”.

Surplus gas could also be exported to Asia after passing through Idku or a second Egyptian LNG terminal at Damietta and then the Suez Canal, Steinitz said.

“That’s a very good option. One can also think of other options like building a pipe from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and building some kind of LNG, either a land LNG or FLNG (floating LNG plant) to already start closer.”

He said he had already discussed the idea with Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek el Molla, and with India.

“Indian demand is growing rapidly, they need additional gas, they like to replace coal and other polluting fuels with natural gas,” Steinitz said.

With prospects for further gas discoveries by Egypt, Steinitz said the North African country could join the EastMed gas pipeline, which aims to carry gas from Israeli and Cypriot waters to Europe via Crete and Italy, as an additional way of exporting any gas surplus.

“I don’t exclude the possibility that in the future .. you might double such a pipeline and then of course there might be room for Egypt to join.”

Reporting by Aidan Lewis, Writing by Ulf Laessing, Editing by Susan Fenton and Timothy Heritage