Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: Pipeline fire erupts, disrupting gas flow to Jordan and sending warning to Israel

February 5, 2011 |  6:43 am

An Egyptian pipeline providing natural gas to Jordan was attacked Saturday near the North Sinai town of El Arish, disrupting gas flow and perhaps sending a stern warning to Israel and the region about the volatility of the political upheavals in Egypt.

Contradictory reports said the pipeline also provided gas to Syria and Israel.

An unnamed official told Agence France-Presse that the explosion had forced authorities to turn off the gas supply from a twin pipeline to Israel, located near the Gaza strip. Other news reports said the explosion had  targeted a pipeline that transports gas from the Egyptian city of Port Said to Israel, Syria, and Jordan.  

Video footage said to be from the incident shows a massive fire sending flames and smoke billowing into the sky.

Egyptian state TV immediately blamed the blast on terrorists and "unidentified saboteurs."

"Vandalism elements carried out an explosion targeting the international gas station and a main gas pipeline in North Sinai province," reported the pan-Arab Nile News TV.

The report added that firefighters were trying to control the fire and keep it from spreading to residential areas. 

The governor in North Sinai, Abd-al-Wahab Mabruk, said the explosion did not result in any casualties. 

Even though it's a small fire at a relatively unimportant pipeline, it shows how the current political volatility in the Middle East could affect the region and the world's lifeblood: energy supplies.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible, or whether the attack was linked to the deadly protests against President Hosni Mubarak's rule, which entered their 12th day on Saturday.

--Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Video: Amateur video of the fire. Credit: YouTube