The explosion of an Egyptian gas terminal would not immediately influence local
fuel supplies, but Israel must explore alternative power sources in earnest if
it hopes to assure energy independence, Israeli officials warned on
With Egypt in its second week of mass anti-government protests,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the government had been prepared for the
possible disruption of Egyptian supplies and arranged for other sources to
Gas firm blames Sinai pipeline blast on leak, not sabotage
Gas fields in contested seas
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“Because of these advance preparations, no disruptions in the
gas supply to Israel are expected,” he told the cabinet.
at the facility in the northern Sinai set off a massive fire that was contained
by shutting off the flow of gas to Jordan and Israel. Egypt’s natural gas
company said the fire had been caused by a gas leak, but local officials said a
bomb had been detonated inside the terminal.
Officials said the incident
illustrated the risk Israel faces in relying on Egypt as a key energy supplier.
While coal has historically been the dominant fuel source for Israeli
electricity plants, the country shifted its reliance extensively to Egypt,
which, under a 15-year deal signed in 2008, is to sell Israel 1.7 billion cubic
meters of gas a year.
Israeli industry analysts see that flow as
important to diversifying the country’s fuel sources and to maintaining good
ties with Egypt.
Dr. Amit Mor, CEO of the Herzliya Pituah-based
consulting and investment firm Eco Energy Ltd., told The Jerusalem Post
Sunday that Israel had to ensure its energy independence in the face of possible
technical failures and commercial or strategic instability.
Israel should invest in developing its infrastructure for transporting and using
liquefied natural gas, or LNG – gas that has been converted to liquid form for
ease of transport and storage.
National Infrastructures Minister Uzi
Landau said on Sunday that Israel would work to build a floating platform off
the Mediterranean coast to receive LNG and transport it to shore.
must build this platform off Hadera in the next two years because there is an emergency that we need to
take into account,” Landau told Israel Radio, referring to the Egyptian
uprising. LNG can be more easily stockpiled for emergency situations than other
forms of natural gas.
Gas exploration companies have announced two
deep-water finds over the past two years in Israeli territorial waters totaling
some 25 trillion cubic meters. While that amount dwarfs the quantity
Egypt has contracted to sell Israel, gas is not expected to start flowing from
one of those fields, Tamar, before 2013.
“Playing with gas is playing
with fire,” MK Carmel Shama- Hacohen, chairman of the Knesset Economic Affairs
Committee, said during a hearing on Sunday, according to
“Israel’s energy economy must take into account a scenario of no
gas deliveries from Egypt.” The committee convened a special meeting to
discuss the effect of the unrest in Egypt on the Israeli energy
Israel Electric Corp., the nation’s largest natural gas user, can
weather the shut-off without disruption for up to two weeks, CEO Amos Lasker
told Israel Radio. Should it drag on beyond that, the country would be forced to
use pricier fuels, he said.
Landau said he wants the government to back
loans so financing can be obtained to develop the Tamar field roughly 80
km. west of Haifa, a spokesman said.
The infrastructure minister
also favors exempting the field’s developers from a proposed windfall tax to
encourage them to get moving.
“We have to do everything to improve
Israel’s energy security,” the minister said. “It is Israel’s obligation to
remove as soon as possible every obstacle” to developing Tamar.
spokesman said the goal was to have gas from Tamar flowing into Israel by 2013,
adding that the Sinai explosion “just proves” the need to do so.
energy independence and to achieve it as soon as possible,” the spokesman
Various obstacles have held up the development of Tamar. The gas
companies planning to work the field are lobbying the government not to apply a
proposed windfall tax retroactively to their find.
prospective lenders also want the state to guarantee the loans to make sure the
IEC honors its commitment to buy the gas.
Ratings firm Standard &
Poor’s recently downgraded the utility’s credit rating to junk
The new discoveries – which Beirut says, without providing proof,
lie partly in Lebanese waters – are enough to keep Israel energy self-sufficient
for decades, Israeli experts say, and could potentially turn the country into an
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