Israel Battles Use vs Export of Natural Gas
July 27, 2012 by sspillman
(from “Israel to Generate 70% of Electricity from Gas by 2016, but Policymakers Lag Behind” by Malkah Fleisher, Jewish Press.com)
Recent news of a massive natural gas well have turned eyes on Israel’s struggle to adopt an energy policy in the wake of its first-time gas wealth. Trying to measure the value of energy independence against short-term profits, Israel has shown that its unexpected blessing comes with a price.
In 2009, Tamar, located approximately 80 kilometers off the coast of Haifa, was the world’s largest natural gas discovery, endowing Israel with over 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The confetti had barely settled when Leviathan, 40 kilometers farther offshore, shocked the nation and the world with a payload double that of Tamar, and the esteemed honor of being the largest offshore natural gas discovery in the world in over ten years, and totally a grandiose 700 billion cubic metres (24.7 trillion cubic feet).
Financial and energy analysts could barely contain themselves. Joyful predictions of long-coveted but previously inconceivable energy independence were raised, alongside the gleeful shouts of financial analysts who anticipated massive income from the export of gas.
And the battle for the mind of Israel’s government began. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instituted a commission headed by Minister of Water and Energy Shaul Tzemach to investigate the sensibleness of exporting Israel’s new wealth of natural gas, which would supply Israeli needs for decades if kept under Israeli ownership. His initial report recommended saving as much gas as necessary to fuel Israel through 2040. Yet Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz pushed back, saying Israel should be allowed to export more. So Tzemach promised a reconsideration and another report.
Yet before a report – which is due any day – could be issued, Avner, Delek, and Noble Energy companies – partners in the drilling projects and owners of the energy cache – made a quiet deal with Russia, agreeing to sell the superpower gas for the next 20 years at a fixed price – amounting to half the output of the Tamar field. (read the entire article)