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October 30, 2022 3:33 pm
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Israel’s Offshore Gas to Help Europe Grapple With Energy Crisis, Says PM

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Prime Minister Yair Lapid tours Karish gas rig platform off the Mediterranean coast. Credit: Koby Gideon (Israel’s Government Press Office)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid vowed Sunday that offshore gas extraction from the Karish oil rig will help boost natural gas exports and put Israel in a position to help Europe in its energy crisis.

“This place here is the energy and economic future of the State of Israel,” said Lapid after touring the Karish gas platform off the Mediterranean coast. “Gas production from the Karish field will lower energy prices in Israel, turn Israel into a regional energy supplier, and help Europe take on its energy crisis.”

During the tour of the Karish gas platform, Energean Israel CEO Shaul Tzemach showed Lapid the gas production process. Lapid toured the platform’s control room, met with the company’s Israeli workers, and went up to the observation point overlooking the platform and the area.

“This is the start of a new era of energy competition,” Energean asserted.

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Lapid reiterated that continued gas production from the Karish platform, will ensure “economic stability and energy security for the State of Israel for many years to come.”

Lapid visited the Karish platform after Israel and Lebanon on Thursday ended a decades-long dispute over maritime borders between the two countries. The US-brokered deal delineates maritime borders between the two foes’ exclusive economic zones and resolves a dispute over territorial rights to pave the way for the exploitation of gas reserves in a 330 square mile area of the Mediterranean Sea.

Under the terms of the agreement, Israel has secured territorial recognition of the previously disputed Karish gas site. Lebanon is awarded an area from which it seeks to explore natural gas, known as the prospective Kana field provided it will pay Israel 17 percent in royalties if it produces gas from the part of the field which extends into Israel’s exclusive economic zone.

The landmark deal is believed to stave off war threats uttered by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in the run-up to the indirect talks between Israel and Lebanon. The head of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah in recent months escalated threats to attack Israeli targets in the Karish gas field, located south of the previously contested sea border area, unless there is an agreement on the maritime border demarcation.

In a speech on Saturday, Nasrallah hailed the agreement as a victory for Lebanon after Israel backed down to the organization’s war threats and expressed further threats.

“No one will be able to extract or continue extracting gas from the sea if Lebanon does not extract its gas,” Nasrallah warned according to a translation of his speech in a report by Hezbollah-owned news site Al-Ahed. “The Resistance in Lebanon wants security in the country, it is clear and decisive, but when the greater national interests require to surpass the rules of engagement it won’t hesitate even if the choice was the war.”

London-based exploration and production company Energean Plc, which holds the rights to the Karish field, last Wednesday already started to extract gas from the site. Energean said that initial gas production capacity is estimated at 6.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year, and is slated to gradually increase to a capacity of 8 bcm per year.

“Natural gas from the Karish field has been providing electricity to customers in Israel since last weekend,” according to a statement by the Lapid’s office.

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