Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom intends to set the maximum natural gas export allocation at 40 percent rather than the expected 53% figure, he told Channel 2 on Wednesday night.
As companies continue to explore and drill through Israel’s eastern Mediterranean waters, export allowances have become a topic of contention across the country. The 282-billion cubic meter Tamar reservoir is already flowing into Israel, and its neighboring approximately 535-b. cu. m. basin Leviathan is slated to come online within the next few years. Although the Zemach Committee – headed by Energy and Water Ministry Director-General Shaul Zemach – recommended a maximum export allocation of 500 b. cu. m. this fall, the government has yet to officially approve any export policy.
The Zemach Committee’s conclusions, which also called for a minimum of 450 b. cu. m. of gas to be allotted for domestic use, have been under constant criticism from environmentalists across the board, who say that much more of the resource is needed at home. Gas explorers and producers, on the other hand, say contend that a stable export policy will attract additional entrepreneurs to enter the region and thereby discover more resources – bringing a benefit to Israel’s citizens as well.