Hamas official demands details of Egypt-PA gas deal
A Hamas official has expressed discontent over the movement being side-lined in an agreement between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Egypt to develop a gas field west of the Gaza strip, Anadolu Agency report.
Mousa Abu Marzouk, a senior member of the Islamist movement that controls Gaza, tweeted that "Gaza must be present in any understandings about the gas fields on its shore".
"If Gaza is forced to import natural gas from the occupation to the only power station in the Strip, then we should not stand by and watch as our natural resources go away."
The official also demanded to know details of the deal struck Sunday between the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF), Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) to develop infrastructure for the Gaza Marine gas field.
Discovered in late 1999 off Gaza's shores, the field is estimated to contain one trillion cubic feet of gas and estimated to have a life of 15 years.
Egypt and the PIF, the sovereign wealth fund of Palestine, have said the agreement will serve Palestinians' need for gas. It will also explore the possibility of exporting part of the gas to Egypt - something which may have provoked Hamas' ire.
Hussain Al-Sheikh, the PA's minister for civil affairs, responded to Marzouk's tweet.
"Agreement are made between countries, and Palestine is a member of the Mediterranean Gas Forum," Al-Sheikh tweeted.
"The agreements are signed with states, not with factions and organisations." he added.
Read also: Israel kicks off Middle East gas exports while continuing to deny Palestinians their drilling rights
The EastMed gas forum, which was established by Egypt, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Jordan and Palestine last year, oversees the exploration and production of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean.
In late 1999, the PA granted an exploration 25-year licence to the BG Group, CCC, the British Gas Group (BG Group) and the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) to develop and commercialise the Gaza fields.
After various delays and pullouts, the PIF remains the sold stakeholder of the field. Attempts to extract natural gas have been hampered due to rivalries between Palestinian factions and Israeli wars on Gaza.
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