leviathan gas drill.
(photo credit: (Albatross))
The National Infrastructures Ministry granted permission to Noble Energy on
Sunday night to begin development of the small “Noa North” natural gas reservoir
to bridge any gaps that might occur between the depletion of the Mari-B Yam
Tethys supply and the opening of the Tamar gas reserves, the ministry announced
on Monday morning.
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Noble Energy, the American company also responsible
for the development of the large Tamar and Leviathan gas reserves off the coast
of Haifa, can begin drilling 1.2 billion cubic meters of gas at the adjacent
Noa-1 on July 15, the ministry said.
Experts have said that Tamar will
only be ready sometime between 2012 and 2013, and in the meantime, if the
Egyptian natural gas supply remains inaccessible, the Mari-B Yam Tethys supply
off the coast of Ashkelon would only have about a year and a quarter worth of
gas left. The ministry therefore expressed hopes that the additional drilling
will provide for “the expected shortage of natural gas at the end of the year
2012,” according to a statement.
Only after receiving guarantees from
Noble Energy that significant quantities of natural gas would not pass from this
field to other more south and southwestern sections of the reservoir did the
National Infrastructures Ministry’s petroleum supervisor give the company the
go-ahead, the statement said. These other sections of the reserve are partially
under Palestinian Authority administration and the potential diplomatic
repercussions of accidentally interfering with those fields have prevented
National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau from taking this step previously,
Globes reported an expert source as saying.
Leading scholars in Israel’s
natural gas industry praised the government’s decision to allow drilling in Noa
“This is an important decision,” said Prof. Brenda Shaffer, an
expert on energy policy and management at the University of Haifa. “It means
that they are indeed recognizing publicly that there will be a gap between the
end of Yam Tethys and the beginning of production at Tamar. It probably also
means that they can’t get LNG on buoy here on time.”
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question, however, whether 1.2 billion cubic meters of additional natural gas
would be sufficient to bridge the gap.
Responding to an inquiry from The
Jerusalem Post, a National Infrastructures Ministry spokeswoman said that this
amount will in fact be sufficient enough to cover the short-term lapse between
the depletion of Yam Tethys and the connection of the Tamar reservoir to
Israel’s energy supply.
“I think that the Noa development is required to
bridge the gap in the gas supply between the depletion of the Mari-B and the
commissioning of the Tamar field,” said Dr. Amit Mor, CEO and energy specialist
at the Eco Energy consulting firm. “That small field, which would not have been
developed otherwise, is required to supply gas or serve as a backup for
supplying gas to oil refineries and possibility to other consumers in case there
is be a lack of gas during this interim period.
This will be an important
insurance to securing the supply of gas during this interim period in case there
is a lack of gas due to geopolitical reasons (Egyptian gas) or technical delays
Like Shaffer, however, while Mor favored the drilling, he did
point out some disadvantages of the process.
“It should be noted that in
regular gas supply conditions, this field would not have been developed because
it’s a small field. And also the fast extraction will kill this field,” he said,
explaining that removing 1.2 billion cubic meters from Noa now will prevent
further such procedures there in the future due to the mechanics involved with
But still, Mor maintained, drilling quickly now will be
worth the future sacrifice.
“It is necessary as a security premium,” he
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