Oil Fields Will Be Turned over to Egypt in Top Condition

The oil pumping machinery at the 73 on-shore and 13 off-shore wells at Abu Rodeis will not miss a beat when the wells are handed back to Egyptian ownership by Israel next month, An official of the Netivei Neft Co., which has been operating the Abu Rodeis oil fields for the Israel government since their capture in 1967, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that to halt production, even for a brief time, would cost millions in damage to the wells.

Israel intends to return the oil fields in top condition, including the many improvements it made over the past eight years for which Egypt agreed to reimburse Israel under terms of the Sinai accord signed last month. These include modern hydraulic and electric pumping machinery and a huge off-shore pipeline that can fill a 100,000 deadweight ton tanker in 33 hours.

The oil fields will be in full production when Israel turns them over to a skeleton crew of Italian technicians. The Italians operated the fields for the Egyptians before 1967 and stayed on after the Israeli take-over. They will be in charge of Abu Rodeis during the week of Nov, 24-30 until the full complement of Egyptian technicians and workers arrives, the official informed the JTA.

The Netivei Neft official said the oil fields are presently working as usual. Oil left in storage tanks after Netivei Neft personnel leaves will be put “on the Egyptians’ bill,” he said, The first transfer will take place at a small oil field at Ras Sudar, 100 kilometers up the coast from Abu Rodeis, where an advance party of Egyptian technicians is due to arrive next Sunday, Oct, 5. The Israeli army was scheduled to evacuate the region by Oct. 30 but sources here said the deadline may have to be extended as long as the U.S. Congress delays approving the Sinai accords.

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