Cabinet okays change in law to reopen British Gas talks

"This is an important step, but not the only one to bring us back to the negotiations table," saiMichael Barron, Gaza Marine policy and corporate affairs manager at the BG Group.

british gas 88 (photo credit:)
british gas 88
(photo credit: )
The cabinet approved an amendment to the natural gas law on Sunday that would allow it to buy gas from the British Gas Group's reserves off the Gaza coast and from other suppliers to sell to end users. "Following the approval we will be able to get the BG Group to come back to the negotiation table as a gas supplier," said National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer who, together with Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On, presented the amendment to the ministers. Speaking at the Herzliya Conference last week, Ben-Eliezer called for the resumption of negotiations with the BG Group for the purchase of natural gas, which were called off on December 20. The amendment is part of the government's commitment under a High Court of Justice ruling on a petition by Yam Thetis against the negotiations. The court allowed the negotiations to continue, under the condition that the law banning the government from marketing natural gas be amended. "This is an important step, but not the only one [needed] to bring us back to the negotiations table. First of all, the Knesset still needs to pass the amendment and even if the law is changed it is just one more step along the process," Michael Barron, Gaza Marine policy and corporate affairs manager at the BG Group, told The Jerusalem Post. "We don't see an immediate resumption of negotiations with the Israeli government. We will still be looking for meaningful changes in the Israeli energy market and real engagement and progress in the agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority." On December 20, the BG Group officially announced that it was calling off negotiations with the government on the sale of the company's natural gas reserves in the Gaza Marine field and early this month, it announced it was closing its office in Israel. The company cited disagreements over price. However, the BG Group said it was keeping its office in Ramallah and would continue to hold its 90 percent stake in the Gaza Marine license. "We will consider our options and continue to monitor developments in the Israeli energy sector," it added.