For the first time since Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, an Egyptian company is buying Israeli natural gas.

Egypt’s private gas trading company Dolphinus signed two ten-year agreements worth $15bn with Delek partner companies in Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan natural gas fields, Israel’s Delek Drilling company announced.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the deal as “historic” saying he hoped it would “strengthen our economy (and) strengthen regional ties,” in a series of video statements posted to the Israeli prime minister’s twitter account.

Netanyahu said:

This will put billions into the state treasury to benefit the education, health and social welfare of Israel’s citizens.

Israeli energy minister, Yuval Steinitz, said it was the most significant export deal with Egypt since the neighbours signed their peace treaty, and is “expected to strengthen bilateral relations”.

Steinitz told Israel’s army radio:

This is the first time since the signing of peace treaties in the Middle East that such significant deals between the countries have been signed.

Egypt’s petroleum ministry refused to comment on the announcement on Monday, issuing a statement that it has “no comment on negotiations or deals involving private sector companies over importing or selling natural gas,” according to local Egyptian news site Ahram Online.

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Hamdy Abdel Aziz said any request for a commercial permit to operate in the gas sector would follow standard regulations in line with Egypt’s strategy of becoming a regional hub for energy, Ahram said.

In August 2017, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi signed a new law to open up the natural gas market of north Africa’s largest economy in a move to help fuel growth and investment from exploration and production.

The new law established a natural gas regulatory authority to oversee licensing and laid the legal groundwork for private companies to trade competitively in the natural gas market.

Israel’s other neighbour, Jordan struck a deal to buy 300m cubic feet of Israeli gas per day over 15 years in September 2016, in a deal estimated to be worth around $10bn.