Business in Brief: February 23

By GLOBES
February 23, 2011 00:44

“The natural gas discoveries in Israel’s waters can fulfill a positive role in the energy mix of the EU."

3 minute read.



Convicted rapist, former president Moshe Katsav

Serial rapist Moshe Katsav 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

‘Israeli gas gives energy security to EU’ • Amiram Barkat

“The natural gas discoveries in Israel’s waters can fulfill a positive role in the energy mix of the EU. They increase Europe’s energy security and can serve as an alternative to the continent’s current sources of gas supplies,” Greek Deputy Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Ioannis Maniatis told “Globes” today.

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Maniatis’s remarks are a rare public statement by a European politician. Europe suffers from its dependence on Russian natural gas. Maniatis is making a business visit to Israel to prepare for next month’s visit by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

Maniatis met Minister of National Infrastructures Uzi Landau and Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan to discuss strengthening collaboration on renewable energy, energy conservation, and water management.

“Globes” has reported that Israel and Greece are holding secret talks for the supply of natural gas, probably via an undersea pipeline from the Leviathan field. Maniatis said that he did not discuss this issue with Landau and Erdan, but added that Greece wants to become the gateway to the EU for Mediterranean natural gas. He said that Greece is planning to build three natural gas pipelines for importing gas from Central Asia.

Greece currently imports 70 percent of its natural gas from Russia, and the rest from Algeria and Central Asia. “Greek use of natural gas is half the EU average, and we want to close the gap,” said Maniatis.

Greece currently consumes 3.75 billion cubic meters of gas a year, compared with 5.2 billion consumed by Israel.

Syria to issue offshore gas licenses • Amiram Barkat

Syria wants its share of oil and gas discoveries in the Levant Basin in the Eastern Mediterranean. Following Israel, Cyprus, and Lebanon, Syria will publish tenders for four marine oil and gas exploration licenses, reports “Dow Jones Newswires”. The report is based on comments by Syria’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.

Syria will also grant eight onshore oil and gas exploration licenses during 2011. The marine tenders are scheduled to be closed within a month, after the original deadline was pushed back from September 15, 2010 to February 8, 2011. The onshore licenses cover 74,000 square kilometers in eastern and northern Syria.

Like Cyprus, Syria’s oil and gas exploration regime is based on production sharing contracts (PSCs) between the state and the licensee. The licenses are not based on royalties, as in Israel.

Katsav’s office budget rises by NIS 47K • Globes’ correspondent

Two weeks before former president Moshe Katsav is due to be sentenced on his rape convictions, the Knesset Finance Committee on Tuesday increased the 2011 budget for his office by NIS 47,000 to NIS 1,794,000.

Katsav has the right to maintain an office, located in Ramat Gan, including employees, aides, and a chauffer for a government car. The government also shares in the cost of maintaining Katsav’s home in Kiryat Malakhi.

Katsav is also eligible to a pension equal to 100% of his gross monthly of NIS 46,278. His pension rights were not affected by his conviction for rape two months ago.

The Tel Aviv District Court today began hearings on Katsav’s sentencing. The defense is seeking probation, while the prosecution is demanding jail time. The sentencing will take place on March 8 – International Woman’s Day.

Elbit to buy remaining Elisra stake • Globes’ correspondent

Defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd.

said Tuesday that it will buy the 30% of Elisra Electronic Systems Ltd. that it does not already own.

Elbit will pay $67.5 million for the stake.

Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd., through subsidiary Elta Systems, owned the 30% stake in Elisra, and Elbit owned the other 70%.

Following the acquisition, Elisra will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems. Elisra develops information warfare (electronic warfare, intelligence and C3) systems, and is comprised of Elisra, Tadiran Electronic Systems Ltd., and Tadiran Spectralink Ltd.

Elbit Systems share price closed last week at $51.78, to give a market cap of $2.21 billion. Wall Street was closed Tuesday for Presidents’ Day.


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