(photo credit: Albatross)
Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom intends to set the maximum natural gas
export allocation at 40 percent rather than the expected 53% figure, he told
Channel 2 on Wednesday night. As companies continue to explore and drill through
Israel’s eastern Mediterranean waters, export allowances have become a topic of
contention across the country. The 282-billion cubic meter Tamar reservoir is
already flowing into Israel, and its neighboring approximately 535-b. cu. m.
basin Leviathan is slated to come online within the next few years. Although the
Zemach Committee – headed by Energy and Water Ministry Director-General Shaul
Zemach – recommended a maximum export allocation of 500 b. cu. m. this fall, the
government has yet to officially approve any export policy.
Committee’s conclusions, which also called for a minimum of 450 b. cu. m. of gas
to be allotted for domestic use, have been under constant criticism from
environmentalists across the board, who say that much more of the resource is
needed at home. Gas explorers and producers, on the other hand, say contend that
a stable export policy will attract additional entrepreneurs to enter the region
and thereby discover more resources – bringing a benefit to Israel’s citizens as
After hearing the 40 percent export cap presented on Channel 2,
environmentalists still maintained that they would not be satisfied with this
"The export of 40% of our natural gas as was published this
evening is an offer that was presented to us, but our position is that this
proposal does not meet the real needs of the citizens of Israel," said
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz. According to the Environment
Ministry's tests and analyses, at least 600 b. cu. m. of natural gas will be
required for the energy, transportation and chemicals industry at home, Peretz
MK Dov Henin (Hadash) likewise slammed the new proposal, calling
on the Energy and Water Ministry to "stop playing with numbers and return to
talk about principles." Such a decision needs to be discussed in the Knesset and
needs to be a transparent matter with public input, Henin
Presenting this reduction of percentages as a "social"
decision is false, since export percentage can only be relevant once Israel
knows exactly how much gas it has, added Amit Bracha, executive director of Adam
Teva V'Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense).
"This discourse is
not about amounts of percentages of gas that Israel will export, but is a
substantive issue of who owns Israeli gas," a statement from the Struggle for
the Preservation of Israeli Gas movement.