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Israeli Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel is looking to have the recent oil pipeline deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) scrapped because of security and environmental concerns, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Last October, Israel and the UAE signed a preliminary agreement under which crude oil from OPEC's third-largest producer could be shipped to European markets via an oil pipeline in Israel connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean. This was one of the first major energy deals after Israel and the UAE agreed to normalize relations in September 2020.
Under the deal, Israeli state firm Europe Asia Pipeline Co (EAPC) and UAE-based MED-RED Land Bridge Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in transporting crude oil and fuel from the Gulf to Western markets via the pipeline between Israeli cities of Eilat on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean port of Ashkelon.
The pipeline, built in the 1960s, was intended to serve the transit of crude oil from oil-producing countries in the Persian Gulf to customers in Europe. Israel built the pipeline together with Iran at the time—before the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 and before Israel and Iran became bitter enemies. Israel nationalized the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline after the Islamic Revolution.
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Six months after the preliminary Israel-UAE agreement was signed, minister Gamliel is now seeking to reverse it, saying that the pipeline carries the risk of oil spills on land and security risks for Israel in case oil tankers are targeted at Israeli ports. The number of tanker arrivals to Israeli ports could rise to as much as 50 per year, from six now, if the pipeline begins operations, according to estimates cited by Haaretz.
Gamliel has sent a letter to the head of Israel's National Security Council with warnings about the potential security and environmental risks, Haaretz reports.
Asked to comment on the letter, the Prime Minister's Office told the daily that "As early as last March, the National Security Council sent Gamliel a letter in which she was informed that the NSC does not deal with this matter. This publication, as well as the additional letter on the same topic, are puzzling."
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.