Cairo, Amman, Damascus and Ankara have agreed plans to begin work on the Syrian and Turkish portions of the Arab gas transmission pipeline, eventually allowing Egyptian natural gas to be exported to central Europe by 2007.

At a summit meeting in Cairo on 16 August, petroleum ministers agreed to establish a new Egyptian/Syrian/Turkish joint venture company to build the $400 million third phase of the pipeline, stretching from Homs in central Syria to the Turkish border. Construction is expected to take about 22 months. Syrian Petroleum Minister Ibrahim Haddad said that Damascus and Cairo had completed a feasiblity study for the Syrian link.

Turkish Energy & Natural Resources Minister Hilma Guler said Ankara would build its section of the pipeline over the same 22-month period. In March 2004, Ankara signed an agreement with Cairo to buy 2,400 million cubic metres a year (cm/y) of Egyptian natural gas and to allow 2,600 million cm/y to be pumped through Turkey to Europe.

Syrian Gas Company (SGC)is evaluating bids for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build a 324-kilometre extension of the pipeline from the Jordanian border to the Al-Rayan area east of Homs and a branch to the power plant in Deir Ali (MEED 12:8:05). The 393-kilometre Jordanian portion of the pipeline is currently being built from Aqaba in southern Jordan to the Rehab power station in the north by the local project company, Al-Fajr Company for Transferring & Marketing Natural Gas. Jordanian Petroleum Minister Azmi Khreisat said on 16 August that construction of the section was 91 per cent complete and would be finished by the end of this year.

The first phase of the pipeline – bringing gas from fields in the Mediterranean via Al-Arish and Taba in Egypt to Aqaba – opened on 27 July 2003, when gas reached Aqaba power station (MEED 14:1:05).