Israel's natural gas.
(photo credit: MINISTRY OF NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURES)
The natural gas companies operating in Israel's Mediterranean waters have agreed to the revised terms of the sector's controversial compromise outline, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz announced late Wednesday night.
The announcement occurred a day after Steinitz's office had reported a breakdown in talks with the companies. After discussions resumed on Wednesday afternoon, an agreement finally occurred late that evening, the minister's spokeswoman said.
"A short while ago an agreement was reached on the outline that will allow the development of oil and gas reserves in the State of Israel after a delay of several years," a statement from Steinitz's office said.
The latest such delay began at the end of December, when Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo announced that he would review whether the market dominance of the Delek Group and Noble Energy constituted an illegal “restrictive agreement.” After negotiations concluded, the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry released the resultant outline's terms to the public on June 30. For the past few weeks, officials have been working on revising these terms.
Barring any last minute problems, Steinitz's office said that on Thursday an amended version of the outline will be distributed among ministers, and then be brought for cabinet approval on Sunday. Some of the changes involve the sections on price supervision, on stability, on milestones for the Leviathan reservoir's development and on purchasing returns. In addition, the gas companies have agreed to include a clause regarding commitments to the conduct of both the government and the Knesset, Steinitz's office added.