Israel, Egypt Said Nearing Compromise on Natural Gas Dispute

Bloomberg reports:  Israel and Egypt are close to a compromise that would sweep away a major obstacle to a multibillion-dollar natural gas deal.

Israel may agree to settle for half of the $1.73 billion fine Egypt was ordered to pay it so talks on exporting Israeli offshore gas there can go ahead, two people familiar with the negotiations said, requesting anonymity because the talks are private.  Payments would be spread over 14 years, one of the people said.

Negotiations are still under way, and authorities in both countries would have to approve any final figure, the people familiar said. State-owned Israel Electric Corp., which had sought the award from Egypt, and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry declined to comment. Energy stocks climbed.

 Israel has painted gas exports to Egypt and other nations in the region as a strategic imperative in an area rocked by strife, and removing this obstacle would be crucial to the export deals it seeks to clinch and to cement ties with its closest ally in the Muslim world. Energy-strapped Egypt needs fuel until it develops its own newly discovered fields, and it can use an idle gas pipeline there to transfer Israeli fuel for export to third countries.

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