tamar offshore gas field_311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The National Infrastructures Ministry instructed the Israel Oil Co. and its
partners to begin developing the one-billion cubic meter Or natural gas
reservoir, just after instructing Noble Energy to do the same in the small Noa
North field the day before, the ministry announced late on Tuesday
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Located off the coast of Ashkelon and adjacent to Noa North, Or
resides within the larger, 52,300-dunam (5,230 hectare) Med Yavne field, of
which Israel Oil owns 14.8 percent, according to data provided by the ministry.
Petroleum Commissioner Dr. Michael Gardosh instructed the company to submit its
drilling and development plans for the field to the office by August 1, and also
asked the group to investigate the possibility of connecting the Or field to the
production system already being prepared for the development of its neighbor,
Noa, the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry had instructed Noble
Energy to begin the Noa development in order to bridge any short falls that
might occur between the depletion of Israel’s current Mari-B Yam Tethys supply
and the opening of the Tamar gas reserves, as experts have predicted that Tamar
will only be ready sometime between 2012 and 2013.
If the Egyptian
natural gas supply remains inaccessible, the Mari-B Yam Tethys resources will
probably only be able to provide gas for approximately another year and a
quarter. Having the smaller gas field readily available by fast extraction could
therefore fill in the gaps in the case of an “expected shortage of natural gas
at the end of the year 2012,” according to the statement.
Or field will help fill in such gaps, a ministry spokeswoman told The Jerusalem
Post on Wednesday, emphasizing the importance of having many different supply
Leading scholars in Israel’s natural gas industry had praised
the government’s decision to allow drilling in Noa earlier this week and felt
that the second field holds equal importance to the first – even though the
Egyptian gas supply to Israel resumed at the end of last week.
to the Petroleum Law, the government has a right to instruct those who have
concession over the field to develop it if it is for a national need,” said Dr.
Amit Mor, CEO and energy specialist at the Eco Energy consulting
“Now this whole field is very small, one billion cubic meters, and
it only makes sense to develop it because it is adjacent to the Noa
Mor went on to explain that the development is also only logical
if a pipeline from Noa, located about 40 km. offshore, is “constructed to
deliver the gas to the Mari-B platform facilities” – the very option that the
National Infrastructures Ministry has instructed Israel Oil to
“It makes sense to develop the field only once Noa is
developed,” Mor said. “Since there is a major need for the gas in the interim
period between the depletion of Mari-B and the arrival of gas from the Tamar
field, there is an opportunity to develop Or as well.”
Mor stressed that
the availability of the small fields is “an important security measure,” and
that it is crucial “to use any available source of gas due to geopolitical
reasons on the one hand and technical delays in the Tamar development on the
“In this interim period the country should take all measures to
find gas sources to avoid periods of lack of gas to avoid using very costly and
polluting heavy fuel oil, gas oil and diesel,” he added.
Shaffer, an expert on energy policy and management in the School of Political
Science at the University of Haifa agreed, noting that drilling in these small
fields “might be the only option,” and is certainly preferable to “using more
coal and more diesel.”
Depending on the Egyptian supply “would be
impossible from a security perspective,” according to Shaffer.
gas was flowing fine, I think it would be imprudent to be dependent on an
external source,” she said. “Even if their assessment is that things would be
stable, it is wise to have a backup.”
An additional method that Amit Mor
thinks should be employed simultaneously is the importation of liquefied natural
gas (LNG) floating regasification units which, like the fast extraction in the
small fields, would take about a year and a half to get started, he
“Importation of fast track LNG is very important to secure
continuous supply of gas in the short-term but also in the longer term,” Mor
But at the moment, drilling in the small fields seems like the most
viable option, according to the experts.
“They’ve tried different options
in the last year to solve this problem so obviously the assessment is that this
is the least worse option of all,” Shaffer said. “It’s not like they’re saying,
‘Let’s just try this and see what happens’ – they’ve pursued other options that
haven’t worked out.”