(Bloomberg) -- Egypt began receiving natural gas from Israel, enacting a $15 billion deal that’s part of the North African country’s plan to become an energy re-export hub on Europe’s doorstep.

The step “represents an important development that serves the economic interests for both countries,” Egypt’s Oil Ministry said early Wednesday in a statement announcing the first transfer.

Under the pact, Israeli gas will be processed at Egyptian liquefied natural gas factories before being exported across the Mediterranean.

Israel’s Delek Drilling LP, Noble Energy Inc. and Egyptian East Gas Co. signed a deal in 2018 to buy control of the East Mediterranean Gas Co.pipeline, which connects southern Israel to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula and was initially built to export Egyptian gas to Israel.

The link has been idle for about six years due to a domestic gas shortage and repeated militant attacks on an overland stretch of Sinai pipeline.

The energy deal adds an economic factor to a relationship that’s been focused on security since the two countries signed a peace treaty that changed the face of the Middle East four decades ago. Egypt also plans to use its own giant Zohr field to supply gas-hungry Europe.

Egypt will initially receive about 200 million standard cubic feet per day of the gas, with supplies rising eventually to a daily 500 million sometime in 2020, Oil Minister Tarek El-Molla said in an interview in September.

To contact the reporter on this story: Salma El Wardany in Cairo at selwardany@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nayla Razzouk at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net, Michael Gunn, Amy Teibel

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