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March 10, 2022 1:33 pm

Israeli Energy CEO Says Europe Can’t Avoid Russian Gas in Short Term, Floats Israeli Exports

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A view of the Israeli Leviathan gas processing rig, in the Mediterranean Sea, Jan. 31, 2019. Photo: Marc Israel Sellem / Pool.

The head of one of Israel’s biggest energy companies said Thursday that Europe will be unable to forgo Russian natural gas supplies in the short term, despite the geopolitical complications caused by the conflict in Ukraine.

Yossi Abu, CEO of New-Med Energy, told Israeli media that in order for Europe to find “alternatives” to Russian natural gas, “we are talking about much longer processes than two to three years.”

Such a shift, he said, could take “four or five years” and “of course, this has a serious price, because we’re talking about new infrastructure.”

Referring to the billion cubic meters (BCM) standard of measuring natural gas volume, Abu said, “it’s impossible in one day, one year, to replace 120 BCM of natural gas.” Such a replacement could cost “billions.”

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“The Russian part of Europe’s natural gas supply is dramatic,” Abu explained. “Natural gas generates 75 percent of Israel’s electricity, and the situation in Europe is similar. There are countries that rely entirely on Russian gas.”

He pointed to Turkey, which counts on Russian gas to generate 50 percent of its electricity.

However, Abu said, the situation could present an economic opportunity for Israel, which is in a good position to export gas to foreign countries. For example, Turkey “is a very relevant market for us,” as is Greece.

Israel currently has more than 1,000 BCM at its disposal and only requires 12 BCM annually for its own needs, Abu noted.

“Even if we look 30 years down the road on Israel’s energy needs,” he said, “we need 400 BCM. There is 600 BCM that is worthwhile and desirable to export, because you don’t know what technology will be used to generate electricity in the future.”

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