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April 10, 2017 5:23 pm

Israel’s Natural Gas Supply Is a Game-Changer

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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A gas rig off Israel’s coast. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

“Russia Cuts Gas, and Europe Shivers,” the New York Times reported on January 6, 2009, after Russia shut off gas exports to Europe due to a pricing dispute with Ukraine. From France to Turkey, nations across Europe went without power — and the incident underscored Russia’s outsized hold on European gas supplies.

Fast-forward nearly a decade later, and Europe is on the verge of relief from an unlikely source: Israel.

While approximately 60 percent of the world’s oil reserves are found in the Middle East, none of them are found Israel. Israel has been striving for decades to reduce its reliance on foreign sources of energy, by developing nuclear and solar technology, among other methods.

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Then the game-changer occurred: the discovery of the Tamar and Leviathan natural gas fields off the coast of Haifa in 2009 and 2010. They were among the largest offshore finds in the world.

The Tamar field has been producing natural gas for the Israeli market during the past few years, and natural gas now meets 60 percent of Israel’s energy needs, with coal and diesel filling in the rest. But when the Leviathan field comes online in 2019, it will help Israel achieve a level of energy independence that the Jewish state has never known.

Israeli Energy Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz, who will be speaking in New York City on May 7, has articulated a goal of natural gas eventually providing 80 percent of the country’s electricity needs. Perhaps more importantly, Israel’s new gas fields will make the Jewish state a global energy player for the first time in its history, greatly altering its political and economic clout throughout the Middle East and Europe. Steinitz has said that he sees the eastern Mediterranean becoming the new North Sea.

Jordan has already signed a $10 billion deal to import Israeli gas, and Europe is next. Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy recently agreed to a $6.4 billion plan to construct the world’s longest underwater pipeline, which would bring Israel’s natural gas into the European market. The deal was supported by the EU’s Climate and Energy Commission, which said that it would help limit reliance on Russian-supplied gas.

The benefits of Israel’s new energy sector might also extend beyond the economic. Will Israel see more political support in Europe due to the gas deals? Will European governments back away from their support of BDS?

Time will tell, but like other energy exporters, Israel may finally have the leverage it needs to get the fair treatment that it deserves.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR.  His regular columns in the Algemeiner can be found here.

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  • Mike AU

    I think Israel’s natural gas supply is a game changer
    of biblical/Tanakh proportions! The great spoil spoken
    of by Ezekiel in Chp 38-39. Gog of the land of Magog
    (Russia) along with Iran, Turkey and Nth African nations
    will invade Israel for. God puts a hook in the jaw of Russia
    and brings them down to the mountains of Israel and
    makes an example of them and Islamic nations as well.
    The good news is, the God of Israel destroys the invading
    forces, magnifying himself to many nations, including Israel
    through the prophecy of Ezekiel and a astonishing victory.
    The world will know that the God of Israel stands with his
    chosen people, Israel win, because God can’t lose.

  • Rudolf

    It would be much better for Israel to start gasifying its transport infrastructure and its vehicles. With all this gas they can go a lot further than just 80% electricity from gas. It’s a small country, LNG and CNG filling stations are easy and quick to erect and there is very little cross-border traffic which makes building a country-wide gas network of filling stations a breeze. Get off imported oil instead of exporting your gas.

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