(photo credit: Albatross)
The expertise of Australian energy firms in hydrocarbon development could be of
tremendous value to Israeli firms as they move forward with natural gas
exploration – particularly with export mechanisms, experts from both countries
agreed on Tuesday.
Representatives from both Israeli and Australian
energy companies met in Tel Aviv over breakfast to discuss potential means of
cooperation going forward, as part of a week long mission of an Australian oil
and gas delegation visiting the country this week. Their visit, which is
occurring in order to foster such partnerships, is co-sponsored by the
Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and the Israel-Australia, New Zealand and
Oceania Chamber of Commerce. They also met with government officials and oil and
gas industry stakeholders.
“With the recent discovery and rapid
development of energy infrastructure projects in Israel, there are significant
opportunities for Australian suppliers of technology, services, equipment and
training to access supply chains in the oil and gas market,” said Eric Goldberg,
Austrade’s Tel Aviv representative, prior to the Tuesday meeting.
Australian energy giant, Woodside, is already expected to secure a 30 percent
stake of Israel’s 535-billion cubic meter Leviathan basin in the near
Kevin McCann, chairman of the Australian firm Origin Energy
Limited and the mission leader of the delegation, stressed that Israel could
particularly benefit from working with Australian companies when developing its
natural gas export industry.
“I think the Australian companies, in the
area of providing services, would be very well qualified to help Israel with
this project,” McCann told The Jerusalem Post. “We’ve got the expertise, we’ve
undertaken these projects… We can do the civil works and we can do the
subsurface sea work.”
Australia, McCann explained, has an unlimited
natural gas export policy, which he said has driven more and more exploration to
occur in the country’s waters. While environmentalists have blamed this robust
export policy on the lack of domestic natural gas in Australia, McCann said that
so much more financial benefit comes from exporting the gas. The vast majority
of Australian electricity is still generated through coal sources, but the
country has “a legally mandated renewable energy target” of 28 percent by the
year 2020, he explained.
“Renewables have displaced gas, and coal has
hardly been affected,” McCann said.
Placing a limit on Australian natural
gas exports would “prohibit further exploration of gas,” he warned, emphasizing
how a free export policy stimulates more exploration and growth.
Israel, the government still has yet to decide on an export policy for its
Mediterranean natural gas finds, despite the fact that the Zemach Committee –
headed by Energy and Water Ministry directorgeneral Shaul Zemach – recommended
that the government limit exports to 500 billion cubic meters and maintain at
least 450 b.cu.m. at home. Environmentalists have argued that this
export cap is too liberal and that much more gas must be reserved for uses at
home: Such as clean energy production, gas-based transportation and the
Assuming that Israel does choose to export gas,
the country faces a number of options – exporting through pipelines regionally
or through Turkey, constructing a liquefied natural gas plant for export of the
gas further abroad or making use of such an LNG plant in the works in Cyprus. If
the government decides that an LNG facility at home is the correct option,
McCann stressed that Australian expertise in the industry could be
An LNG facility onshore, meanwhile, would be much more
profitable to Israel than constructing a floating station offshore, despite
environmental concerns about infringing upon a depleting coastline, he
With an onshore facility, the operating companies could employ
Israeli civil works teams and Israeli engineers; whereas, a floating LNG plant
would likely employ only foreign labor, McCann explained.
construction of LNG facilities onshore faces much less environmental opposition
due to the companies’ ability to locate them in unpopulated areas.
face the problem of a more consolidated community,” McCann said.
to appease environmental concerns, McCann suggested creating a buffer zone of
several hundred hectares, if possible, around the station – a zone that could
contain wild flora and fauna but would be more distant from residential
Making use of a future LNG facility planned for the island
of Cyprus, which also has natural gas deposits in its waters, could also be
ideal if the government deems constructing a plant in Israel to be too
problematic, he added.