A man points as he stands on a tanker carrying liquified natural gas, ten miles off the coast from Hadera.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s emerging natural gas sector could provide an attractive environment not only for Texan hydrocarbon exploration firms, but also for those specialized in the accompanying infrastructural services, according to the leader of the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re trying to get Texas companies interested in the oil and gas opportunities here in Israel – not just the major E&P [exploration and production] companies, but all the supporting companies, all the services it takes to run an oil and gas industry,” Clare Freeman, president and CEO of the chamber, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Freeman spoke with the Post at the Universal Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition in Tel Aviv, where industry leaders from around the world gathered to discuss hydrocarbon opportunities in Israel and the surrounding region.
Firms that offer gas rig support services are critically scarce in Israel today, potentially leading to situations where a broken part must be shipped back to Texas for repair due to the lack of suitable rehabilitative machinery here, Freeman explained.
Whether companies entering Israel are from the E&P or the supporting infrastructural arena, Freeman stressed that they should ideally be medium- sized, like Noble Energy.
Many of the much bigger players already have existing relationships with Arab countries that would prevent them from entering Israel, she added.
“The opportunity here isn’t right for every company,” Freeman said. “It’s right for a company like Noble. It’s small and nimble enough to move into this region and has all the economic resources to invest $18 billion.”
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In order to expedite the arrival of more Texan companies, which have a wealth of experience in the hydrocarbon sector, Freeman stressed the importance of providing incentives to these firms.
While such incentives could be direct financial benefits like tax abatements, they could also involve more indirect measures, such as establishing more programs to train oil and gas workers, she explained. Academic institutions in Israel could partner with those in Texas that have such expertise to educate a local workforce, and thereby reduce the burden on incoming companies. “It’s good for the economy if you get local workers involved.”
In just a two-year time frame, it is possible to “churn out qualified workers” by using “the curriculum we know that exists and works, and [letting] the local professors provide it.”
Despite the many bureaucratic and regulatory delays that have riddled the Israeli gas sector, Freeman said she was confident that many Texan companies are still willing to take advantage of the opportunities available in the market here.
“Our job is to create that short list of potential companies that are good candidates for this opportunity and make a concerted effort to recruit them,” she said. “The good part is that it’s Israel, and there’s an undercurrent of goodwill that goes with doing business in Israel.”
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