Israel will not object if exported gas reaches Lebanon, minister says

JERUSALEM, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Israel's energy minister said on Tuesday that it would not be a problem if Israeli natural gas that is exported to Egypt makes its way to Lebanon, a long-time enemy that is dealing with an energy crisis.

Lebanon has already signed a deal with Jordan that aims to ease crippling power shortages by transmitting electricity across neighbouring Syria, and it is looking to get gas from Egypt as well. read more

Egypt produces its own gas but still needs imports from the Israeli offshore natural gas field Leviathan. Leviathan also supplies Jordan.

"There's a big energy crisis in Lebanon," Energy Minister Karine Elharrar told Israel's Army Radio. "Nobody can go and inspect the molecules and check whether they originally came from Israel or Egypt."

If gas exports that reach Lebanon "bring calm to the region, I can't object to it", she added.

The likely route for the gas supplies, given the current network of pipelines, would be from Leviathan to a pipeline across Israel into Jordan, bypassing Egypt, said Amit Mor, CEO of Israeli consulting and investment firm Eco Energy.

From there, it would go north through Syria and into Lebanon via the Arab Gas Pipeline.

He estimated that the Leviathan partners would stand to earn an extra $100 million in revenue each year with such an arrangement.

Delek Drilling (DEDRp.TA), a partner in Leviathan, declined to comment.

Elharrar participated in an industry event in Cairo on Monday where she received a warm welcome from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Representatives from Iraq and Yemen - countries that have no ties with Israel over its occupation of Palestinians - were also in attendance.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Henriette Chacar; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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