Modai; Israel May Have to Postpone Return of Oil Fields

Israel may have to consider postponing the return to Egypt of the Alma oil fields in the Suez Gulf unless an Egyptian-Israeli accord is reached on the amounts and prices of the oil Egypt would sell Israel after the oil fields are returned, Energy and Infrastructure Minister Yitzhak Modai said today.

He issued the warning at Ben Gurion Airport on his return from a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart at Abu Rode is Modai said the gap between the two countries on oil quantities and prices is so great as to perhaps force Israel to consider a delay adding that this problem will have to be considered by the Israel government. He expressed hope that the issue will be settled next week during the meeting between Premier Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat in Haifa.

Israel wants an agreement for Egypt to sell Israel two million tons of oil annually, about the quantity produced by the field discovered and developed by the Israelis in south Sinai on the Suez Gulf. But, he said, the Egyptians are willing to sell Israel only 1.5 million tons a year — 40,000 barrels a day — as a special preference to Israel, and would require Israel to participate in international bidding for more oil. Modai said that apart from the dispute over quantity. Egypt demands the highest international spot market price, about $32 a barrel.

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