TEL AVIV (Feb. 16)
Israel disclosed today that its new 42 inch oil pipeline has been in operation since Feb. 1 linking the port of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba, with Ashkelon on the Mediterranean coast some 160 miles away. The $150 million project by-passes the Suez Canal which has been closed to all shipping since the June, 1967 Arab-Israel war and has always been closed to Israeli ships and cargoes. The pipeline is now operating at an annual capacity of 20 million tons. The installation of more pumping stations will increase it to an eventual 60 million tons per annum.
At the Eilat terminal, the oil is taken from supertankers that bring it to Israel from sources which remain undisclosed to prevent Arab boycott action. At Ashkelon it is loaded into smaller tankers for transshipment to southern and western Europe. Israel is confident that it can sell the surplus oil to European sources although the price is higher than oil shipped exclusively by tanker around the Cape of God Hope. A British tanker presently at Ashkelon is the first vessel to load oil passing through the new pipeline. The 121,000 deadweight ton Swedish-built Israeli tanker Nivi brought the oil from sources described only as “East of Suez.” Israel’s Zim Lines has ordered two more tankers of 250,000 tons deadweight capacity and is considering three more such ships.