Architects charged with planning Israel’s northern gas reception facilities say
constructing such infrastructure on land would present far fewer complications
and environmental risks than doing so at sea.
“We don’t have any way to
secure oil spills [at sea],” Gideon Lerman, one of the chief architects, told
The Jerusalem Post following a tour of an existing gas reception facility on
“Oil spills will cost environmental damage. We need to
separate the condensate from the gas onshore and store the gas
Lerman, co-owner of Lerman Architects and Town Planners Ltd.,
was leading a press conference and tour of Noble Energy’s Ashdod gas reception
facility on Sunday, the only such facility at the moment aside from one in
Ashkelon. As part of the government’s national master plan TAMA-37-H, which
details the infrastructure necessary for handling and treating Israel’s copious
natural gas supplies, Lerman Architects won the bid to develop two northern
The debate continues, however, on whether these
facilities would best be suited for establishment on land, at sea or a
combination of the two.
Although residents of the northern coast have
been championing the at-sea option, gas developers and planners stress the
reduced potential for complications with the land option.
Israel’s electricity production and industry will soon rely on natural gas,
creating a system that preserves safety, reliability and redundancy of gas
supply in Israel is crucial, the Lerman Architects team said. Acknowledging that
a combined solution is technically possible, the architects stressed that the
recovery of the Israeli gas discoveries at such great depths presents complex
Nearly half of Israel’s energy supply is based on
natural gas, and the hope is to bring that number of to 75 percent by 2040, but
there is still “no backup capability for the gas supply,” Lerman
“We are an energy island,” he said. “The gas stops flowing and
we will have power outages.”
At Noble Energy’s gas receiving terminal in
Ashdod, where gas began flowing in 2008, senior project engineer Ido Ben-Zion
led journalists on a tour. Gas today flows from the Tamar reservoir in the
Mediterranean to the Tamar treatment platform off the Ashdod coast, to a coastal
valve station and then to the receiving terminal’s treatment facility, he
All in all, the facility encompasses about 6 hectares of
Upon arrival, the gas travels through a boarding valve, then
through a slug catcher that removes liquid plugs, then through a Joule-Thomson
plant to regulate temperature and pressure and lastly through a metering
Natural gas condensate liquid hydrocarbons from the Tamar
reservoir, meanwhile, go through a stabilization process and enter huge tanks at
the facility, Ben-Zion explained. A vent exists on site for use in emergency
If the preferred plan of Lerman Architects receives
government approval, two gas reception sites a bit larger than the Ashdod
facility would be built in the Meretz sewage treatment facility site (Matash
Meretz) and in the Hagit region, Lerman explained. At the Hagit site, a pipe
would flow in from Hof Dor and south of Moshav Ofer until reaching Hagit, about
15 to 16 km. from the sea near Highway 70. The pipe’s journey to Matash Meretz
would be about 13 km., coming in from the sea south of Hadera.
Meretz site would require about 9.7 hectares of land for the treatment gas and
would have double the capacity of Noble Energy’s Ashdod facility, Lerman said.
An additional 1.5 hectares of land would be needed for gas transmission lines,
1.4 hectares for fuel tanks and 0.4 hectares for unloading – as well as a 5.6-
hectare “no man’s land” as per the request of the Environmental Protection
The station will have a much larger area than does the Ashdod
site for mixing the gas with mono-ethylene glycol (anti-freeze) during its
treatment process, as much of this step – required for reducing the freezing
point of the gas – occurs offshore in the south, Lerman added.
have a similar structure to that of Matash Meretz, with slight changes due to
differences in topography and the need for more supporting walls, he
Although the architects are allowing for the option of building
offshore treatment facilities, depending on what the government decides, they
favor the ones on dry land.
On November 12, the National Council for
Planning and Building will hold a discussion on the program and likely transfer
the plan to the District Committee for Planning and Building, which will then
provide time for public opposition and comments from December through January,
Lerman said. From March to May, research about the plans will then likely occur
in addition to public hearings.
By June, Lerman continued, a discussion
at the national council can then occur to recommend that the government approve
the plan. The approval can take place by July, he added.
have held meetings with protesters from the Emek Hefer region, who prefer that
the gas processing facilities be at sea rather than in their backyards, Lerman
said. Acknowledging that residents do not want to have the facilities next to
their homes, he argued that the Israeli market would benefit much more from the
reliable and redundant system that they plan to build on land.
Lerman said the facilities would not pose any environmental or security risk, as
they would have emergency shutdown valves and armored pipes, and be 600 m. away
from any members of the public.
“We don’t perceive the problems of safety
as crucial, because the facilities are so far form the public,” he said.