From Middle East Monitor:

A senior official from Egypt’s natural gas holding company, EGAS, said on Sunday that Egypt plans to import Israeli natural gas directly from American oil firm, Noble Energy without the mediation of companies in Egypt or abroad, Anadolu news agency reported.

Earlier on Sunday a delegation from Nobel Gas arrived in Cairo from Tel Aviv on a short trip to meet with Egyptian officials.

Sources at Cairo International Airport said the delegation arrived on a private jet and was greeted at the airport by an EGAS delegation.

The official pointed out during a telephone interview with Anadolu that EGAS does not wish to use mediatory companies that could misuse their agreement later, a possible reference to what happened with Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem.

The Egyptian judiciary accused Salem, who is currently in Spain, of taking advantage of his partnership with the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Company, which exported Egyptian gas to Israel in 2008. He was acquitted of the charges last month.

A collective including British energy company B.G. Group, Spanish gas and electricity giant Unión Fenosa, and Egyptian investors led by businessman Alaa Arafa, signed a memorandum of understanding with Noble Energy to supply natural gas for the domestic market. The agreements are currently awaiting the formal approval of the Egyptian government.

In October, the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources said their government is not committed to the memorandum of understanding that was signed between the Israeli Tamar gas field and Egypt’s Dolphins Holding to export a surplus of Israeli natural gas to private customers in Egypt. It also said that the agreements between the two sides will be implemented upon the approval of competent Egyptian authorities, and to serve Egypt’s national interest.

The statement came after Consortium, an alliance that includes US Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek, said they had signed a letter of intent with Egypt’s Dolphins Holding Company for the sale of at least 5 billion cubic meters of gas over three years to clients in the private sector in Egypt through a pipeline that was originally constructed to transport gas to Israel.

Israel’s offshore Tamar gas field was discovered in 2009 and is estimated to contain nearly 10 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.

Egypt suffers from a shortage of gas designated for domestic use. The natural gas production dropped from 6 billion cubic meters in 2012 to 4.8 billion cubic meters.

The EGAS official, who preferred anonymity, said: “We have no objection to importing gas from Noble Energy according to a contract which specifies the quantities, prices and transportation operations.”

He pointed out that his country would prefer to use the facilities of the East Mediterranean Gas Company, especially its pipelines, and to encourage the company to withdraw the compensation case filed against Egypt.

Shareholders in the East Mediterranean Gas Company demand the Egyptian government to pay fines of up to nearly $8 billion because of “damages” they sustained after the Egyptian side cancelled an earlier agreement signed in April 2012.

Egypt intended to sell gas to Israel under a 20-year contract, but the deal collapsed in 2012 after repeated attacks on the gas pipelines in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt suffers from frequent power cuts around the year due to shortages in natural gas.

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