Leading energy firms advocated the future export of both liquefied natural gas
from the enormous Mediterranean Sea Leviathan basin, as well as oil shale from
the central Israel Shefela rock basin at a gathering on Sunday that brought
together pioneers in Israeli and international natural-gas
Noble Energy is currently exploring liquefied natural gas
(LNG) export options in Leviathan, due to both the costs of the project, as well
as a projected increase in the global demand for LNG, according to Lawson
Freeman, vice president for the Eastern Mediterranean sector of the
Meanwhile, Dr. Harold Vinegar of Israel Energy Initiatives, Ltd.
sees Israel’s huge deposits of oil shale that his company is currently beginning
to work on as a potential moneymaker and conduit to energy independence for the
country, working synergistically with natural gas.
The two spoke Sunday
at a conference on “Israel and the Natural Gas: Exploration, Production and
Utilization,” held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Earth
“Leviathan is an export project,” Freeman said. “The only way
to monetize something that size is to export it.”
Noble Energy is
confident that this is the most logical step, as the global demand for LNG is
expected to double in the next 20 years, according to Freeman.
a lot of possibilities with LNG because obviously you can market it in a lot of
different areas,” he said, noting that as people veer away from nuclear power,
they are inclined to use LNG more.
While a pipeline connection directly
to Greece would be maximally beneficial for exports, a pipeline to a future LNG
plant in Cyprus is the only currently feasible possibility geopolitically,
according to Dr. Amit Mor, CEO and energy specialist at the Eco Energy
consulting firm, who spoke about the directions and challenges in developing the
Israel natural gas economy.
Leviathan is only 200 kilometers away from
Vasilikos, Cyprus, he explained.
“It would’ve been great to link the
field to Israel – to do it in Ashkelon or Eilat – but the Israeli public will
not allow construction of a major LNG plant here,” Mor told The Jerusalem Post.
“I don’t believe any government of Israel is going to fight the public against
But no matter how the gas is transported, experts agree that the new
field will primarily be delivered outside of Israel.
“Leviathan will be
mainly for exports – perhaps solely for exports – because Tamar can satisfy our
consumption for the next 20 to 25 years,” agreed Prof. Eytan Sheshinski, in a
phone conversation with the Post following the conference.
spoken that day about his committee’s report, which was adopted by the
government earlier this year – as well as the need to bring Israel up to
standard with OECD countries.
Aside from the future potential in
Leviathan, Noble Energy has currently been working on increasing
“deliverability” in the current Mari-B gas field off the coast of Ashkelon, and
completed two new largediameter wells in September.
In the Tamar field,
adjacent to Leviathan, the company is currently determining the most opportune
place within the field to acquire the gas. Of Noble Engery’s $2.7 billion
investments this year, 0.7b. of the total has gone to Eastern Mediterranean
projects, according to Freeman.
“We’re very proud of Mari-B – it supplies
fuel for about 20 percent of electricity generation,” Freeman said, noting that
since the field was hooked up to the Israel Electric Corporation grid in 2004,
the country has saved savings over $5b. in fuel oil, and 13 million-metric tons
of CO2 emissions. “That’s like taking all the cars in Israel off the road for a
Such developments in natural gas, working in conjunction with
shale oil, could pave Israel’s road to energy independence, argued Dr. Harold
Vinegar of Israel Energy Initiatives, which is currently in a pilot phase of
drilling through the shale in the Shefela basin.
While the US contains
the largest oil shale deposits at 1.2 trillion barrels, Israel has
– “making it equal in magnitude to Saudi Arabia in terms of proven
reserves,” according to Vinegar.
“Israel is very well positioned for oil
exporting,” he said.
“You can export across the Mediterranean [from the
Ashdod pipeline] to supply it to Europe, and through Eilat to supply it to the
Mor corroborated Vinegar’s claims, telling the Post that
he is very optimistic about the project, even if it is years away from being
“You can produce oil from the shale, and you can utilize it for
domestic consumption instead of importing oil,” Mor said, adding that there is
opportunity for exporting.
While Sheshinski agreed that he saw
“potential” in shale oil and said he was “impressed” by Vinegar’s talk, he
added: “I would worry about the environmental impacts of shale oil, and other
companies are worried about that. While it is a potential alternative, and a
viable one as shown in other countries, it may have some detrimental effects on
the environment, and we should consider that.”
To extract oil from shale
rock, the company must drill through the rock and heat the area to extremely
high temperatures, a process that Vinegar claims is environmentally sound,
despite recent criticism from a multitude of green groups.
method for heating the rock is by using natural gas – which is a fraction of the
cost of the oil that will then be produced, he argued.
supplies enable more rapid commercial development of oil shale,” Vineger said.
“The energy content and economic value of natural gas can be multiplied many
times by using some of it as a fuel for heating oil shale in situ. The
combination of abundant natural gas and oil from oil shale can make Israel
completely energy independent.”