Gas supplies to Jordan stop after 13th pipeline blast

Egyptian natural gas supplies to Jordan have again halted completely after the gas pipeline was blown up for the 13th time, Jordan's energy minister said Monday.

Official Jordanian news agency Petra quoted Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Qutaiba Abu Qura as saying Jordan is communicating with Egyptian officials to learn the extent of the damage and the time needed to resume gas flow to Jordan.

On Monday, an Egyptian security official said six armed men planted the bombs in the Masaeed area close to Arish.

During the Mubarak era, Egypt signed a 20-year gas deal with Israel, which has also received gas from the pipeline. The agreement is unpopular with some Egyptians, and critics say Israel gets the gas at rates much lower than international prices.

Previous explosions sometimes forced weeks-long shutdowns of the pipeline, which is run by Gasco, a subsidiary of the national gas company EGAS.

Egypt supplies Jordan with gas per an agreement signed in 2001 that was renewed last September.

Jordan relies on Egyptian gas supplies for 80 percent of its electricity. Repeated attacks on the pipeline have forced Jordan's electricity companies to use diesel and other fuels to run their power stations, causing the National Electric Power Company to lose about 1 billion dinars last year.

In November, Egypt said it would tighten security along the pipeline by installing alarms and recruiting security patrols from Bedouin tribesmen in the area.

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