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August 16, 2015 11:01 am

Israeli Cabinet Approves Controversial Deal to Develop Offshore Gas Fields

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Natural gas from Israel's Tamar field began flowing to customers in 2013. Photo: Screenshot / Youtube.

Israel approved a deal to develop offshore gas fields. Photo: Screenshot / Youtube.

JNS.org – The Israeli government on Sunday approved a deal with a consortium of major gas companies on natural gas production in the Mediterranean Sea.

The deal, reached last Thursday with the Israeli gas firm Delek Group and American-based Noble Energy, sets a price cap for natural gas sales to Israeli companies and requires the gas companies to finish developing the Leviathan gas field by 2020. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted 17-1 in favor of the agreement, with Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabai (Kulanu) the lone opposing vote.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that the deal will “allow for the development of Israel’s oil and gas reserves after a delay of several years.”

The deal resolves a pricing dispute in which an Israeli antitrust commissioner last year threatened to designate the Delek-Noble partnership as a monopoly. In June 2015, meanwhile, the Israeli cabinet declared that Israel’s offshore gas fields are a matter of national security because the Jewish state plans to export some of the gas to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu said the gas deal will “bring Israel’s citizens hundreds of billions of shekels in the coming years… This money will serve us in health, education, and social welfare.”

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