DAMASCUS, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Commercial volumes of gas will start flowing from Egypt to Syria in August through an Arab gas pipeline that is near completion, regional energy officials said on Saturday.
Testing of the pipeline from Al-Arish in Egypt to Deir Ali in Syria is due to commence in March. Supplies will gradually rise from 90 million cubic metres a year in August to a 2 billion maximum, depending on Syria’s needs, they said.
“This is the first Arab network of its kind, representing an economic success as well as a political one,” Egyptian Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy told reporters in the Syrian capital.
The project was agreed in 2000, to supply Egyptian gas to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, which has not developed enough of its gas reserves to cover domestic demand.
The pipeline could link to Turkey as early as the fourth quarter of 2009 and eventually supply the European Union through the Nabucco pipeline project, which will run from the Caspian area to Western Europe across Turkey.
Syrian Oil Minister Sufian Alao said Syria plans to export its own volumes through the pipeline once it raises gas production. An agreement has been also signed with Iraq to link to the pipeline for export purposes.
“Syria needs to import gas for now,” Alao said. “But the pipeline’s use could be switched from import to an export outlet.” (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, editing by Anthony Barker)
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