MKs Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) and Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) submitted a petition on Monday to the Antitrust Tribunal, calling for an end to what they describe as a monopoly in the natural gas exploration sector.
Two months ago, Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo issued a draft order determining that the partners in the Tamar and Leviathan reservoirs could remain in the basins and would not constitute a monopoly. Instead, the partners would be tasked with selling their smaller reservoirs Karish and Tanin.
Along with attorney Gilad Barnea, Yacimovich and Gafni submitted their petition on Monday.
Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) and the Movement for Quality Government filed a similar one simultaneously.
While the Tamar reservoir holds about 282 billion cu.m. of natural gas and the Leviathan reservoir about 535b. cu.m., the Karish and Tanin basins collectively contain only about 70b.cu.m.
Tamar, which came online in March 2013, is owned 36 percent by Noble Energy, while Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration – both subsidiaries of the Delek Group, whose controlling shareholder is Yitzhak Tshuva – each own 15.625%.
Isramco Negev 2 holds 28.75% and Dor Gas owns 4%.
At the neighboring Leviathan, which is slated to be connected in 2017, Noble owns 39.66% and Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration each hold 22.67%. A third partner, Ratio Oil Exploration, holds 15%.
At Karish and Tanin, Noble Energy is a 47% shareholder, and each of the Delek Group subsidiaries has 26.5%.
In their appeal to the Tribunal, Yacimovich and Gafni asked that the court require Gilo’s final order to involve splitting the Leviathan reservoir, in order to generate competition in the sector.
They also demanded a specific statement in the order that if competition does not develop in the gas sector within a few years, the partners would be obligated to sell half of the basin.
Also signing on to the petition were a series of academics and organizations, including the Israel Energy Forum, Adam Teva V’Din, Friends of the Earth Middle East, Prof. Aryeh Eldad, Professors for a Strong Israel and the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, according to Yacimovich’s spokesman.
“Decisions taken now about the gas sector will influence for generations all of our lives,” Yacimovich said. “The agreed upon order proposed by the commissioner creates a scathing violation of laws based on problematic assumptions, is at odds with the previous government, does not create real competition and perpetuates a powerful monopoly in the hands of Tshuva and his partners.”