Egyptian natural gas imports to Jordan stopped completely on Monday morning after a blast hit the pipeline, a source from Jordan's energy ministry said. Eyewitnesses said masked attackers caused the explosion.
The blast, near the town of Arish in Sinai, is the third in six months to the pipeline, which carries gas supplies to Israel as well as Jordan.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Jordanian source said the country received 50 million cubic feet of Egyptian natural gas daily before the explosion. The gas remaining in the pipeline is currently being withdrawn, Egypt having closed it.
Electricity stations in Jordan will be powered by industrial fuel and diesel oil until the imports resume, the source said.
Security and military forces found another bomb targeting the natural gas pipeline, near the place where the original blast occurred, an Egyptian security source said. Experts dismantled it, the source added.
An agreement between Egypt and Jordan in 2001 stipulated the export of 240 million cubic feet of gas daily for 15 years, 2.4 billion cubic feet annually. The price is currently being renegotiated, as Egypt wants to increase it to be more in line with international market prices.
Jordanian authorities have said the blast will cause losses of at least US$3.5 million per day to the electricity generation sector.
Some say Egyptian exports amount to 60 to 65 percent of Jordan's electricity needs, but some put the number higher, at 80 percent.
Meanwhile, the state-owned news outlet MENA reported that eyewitnesses said a group of masked attackers driving cars and motorbikes was behind the attack.
They invaded the pipeline station after handcuffing its guards at gunpoint, the witnesses said, and placed IEDs underneath the pipe before detonating them from afar.
The governor of North Sinai, Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, denounced the attack, describing it as a "terrorist act that seeks to destabilize Sinai," according to MENA.
Security sources said the blaze resulting from the explosion was controlled as officials closed the pipeline's valves in order to stop the gas. Gas supplies were cut off an electricity station in Arish, as well as 2500 homes and the industrial zone in central Sinai.
Translated from the Arabic Edition