Ahram Online quoted Sherif Ismail, the Egyptian Petroleum minister saying that the discovery of the Zohr natural gas field off Egypt will not undermine private-sector negotiations about buying gas from Israel. The quote was intended to downplay fears that potential deals could be under threat. “Any negotiations between private companies in Egypt and in the eastern Mediterranean, and by this I mean Israel and Cyprus, will not stop,” adding  “These negotiations and initial agreements are ongoing.”

Private companies will require government approval to import gas from Israel, the minister said.

Italian energy company Eni announced on Sunday that it had found an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in the Zohr field, making it the biggest discovery in the Mediterranean and the world’s 20th largest. The find raised concerns in Israel’s gas industry that its Leviathan field would lose a deal to supply gas to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Egypt.