(photo credit: Courtesy)
Concerned about terrorist attacks, the Defense Ministry has ordered Israel
Electric Corporation to bolster security around a natural gas buoy that is
slated to be built off the coast of Hadera.
The buoy is being installed
to enable Israel to import natural gas in place of Egyptian gas, which has come
to a near standstill since the revolution in Egypt last year.
to the plan, ships will bring liquid natural gas by boat to a point some 10
kilometers off the coast. There, the gas tankers will connect to a
“regasification ship,” which will turn the liquid gas back into gas and then
send it through the buoy to the IEC power plant in Hadera.
decided to begin liquid gas imports due to the depletion of the Yam Thetis
reservoir and the disruptions to the Egyptian gas supply. The newly discovered
Tamar reservoir is not expected to begin operations until late
Israel’s concern is that Hezbollah will try to attack the Israeli
gas rigs at sea in explosive-laden ships, or with anti-ship missiles. Iran has
also recently announced plans to deploy warships in the
The Israel Navy is particularly concerned about Syria’s
purchase of the Yakhont anti-ship missile, which could be transferred to
Hezbollah and be used against oil rigs. In February, the navy seized an
Iranian-arms shipment that Israel said was destined for Hamas and included six
Nasr-1 radar-guided anti-ship missiles.
The navy has already increased
its patrols in the Mediterranean and is also using unmanned aerial vehicles to
increase the range of its surveillance. It currently operates the Heron UAV,
developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, which comes with a special
electro-optic payload for maritime operations.
On Tuesday, the Defense
Ministry and the Israel Navy met with representatives of IEC and Israel Natural
Gas Lines – both government-owned companies responsible for constructing and
operating the new sea-based infrastructure.
During the meeting, the navy
informed the companies of the new security demands, according to which they will
need to deploy a sea-based radar to protect the buoy and deploy a tugboat which
will be able to tow the regasificaton ship into port in the event of a
The funding for the new security measures will come from the
companies and not from the defense budget.
While the radar and tugboat
will be purchased by the companies, the government is also considering upgrading
the navy’s capabilities to enable it to more effectively protect the growing
number of Israeli gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea.
is the possibility that the funds will be partially provided by the companies
developing the gas fields off Israel’s coast, which are estimated to contain
billions of barrels of natural gas.
The plan under consideration could
see the procurement of ships such as Super Dvora Mk III
class patrol boats built
by Israel Aerospace Industries and Shaldag
class fast patrol boats, which is
manufactured by Israel Shipyards.