Aug 20 2013

Egyptian insecurity prevents work on bomb-hit gas pipeline to Jordan -official

Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013

By Summer Said

Lack of security is preventing the repair of a natural gas pipeline in Egypt damaged in a bomb attack six weeks ago that has halted oil flow to Jordan, the chairman of the state-run Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co., or EGAS , said Tuesday.

The current political instability in the country and the latest unrest in the Sinai Peninsula make it difficult to predict when the work can begin to restore the pipeline in the Sinai town of El Arish, Abdel Reheem said.

"We are still waiting for the army to secure the area so the technical team can start fixing the pipeline but so far the security situation has not improved," Taher Abdel Reheem told Dow Jones Newswires.

Initial evaluation of the July 7 attack by unknown militants showed that the explosions, which caused no casualties, damaged about 12 kilometers of the 36-inch pipeline, through which about 100 million cubic feet of gas a day is transported to Jordanian power plants.

EGAS said after the attack, which followed militant strikes on a regional airport and security checkpoints in the Sinai Peninsula, that gas supplies to Jordan will resume within 10 days.

The gas pipeline has been attacked 16 times since early 2011 when an uprising forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

The July 7 attack, the first in a year, came after the elected president Mohammed Morsi--who has the support of the Muslim Brotherhood--was ousted by the country's military after just one year in office.

Earlier this month, security was increased in areas bordering the Suez shipping route as the military cracked down on anti-government protesters in Cairo.

An early morning ambush on buses carrying police conscripts in Sinai left 25 officers dead and three seriously injured on Monday, a significant escalation that signaled militants in the restive region are responding directly to violence in greater Egypt.

Write to Summer Said at summer.said@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

20-08-13 1206GMT

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