Bini (Binyamin) Zomer.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bini (Binyamin) Zomer, Noble Energy’s Israel country manager, is probably one of the quietest people on this list, yet his influential position impacts all Israeli citizens. Since 2014 he has led the mitigation efforts between the American gas company, which is one of the most prominent investors in Israel’s gas explorations, and the Israeli government.
Gas is an essential energy source for the country’s industry. According to the Energy Ministry, 54% of Israel’s energy use was based on natural gas in 2016 and this figure is expected to grow throughout the next decade. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post last April, its minister Yuval Stienitz said, that in five years, his goal is to see natural gas providing 80% of the country’s electricity – in comparison to today’s roughly 60% contribution – with renewable energy accounting for 10% instead of today’s 2%, and coal dropping from 36% to 10%. In recent years, Noble Energy has become almost a household name in Israel. The US-based petroleum and natural gas and oil exploration and production company has found itself in the midst of a heated debate concerning the gas reservoirs found in the Mediterranean Sea, and specifically concerning the question of the profit sharing between the gas companies and the state.
The debate was about the licenses, the de facto monopoly Noble Energy is enjoying, pricing – and some allegations, especially from political parties on the Left, that this was “not a good deal” for the Israeli citizen. Despite this, the deal, or the “gas plan” as it is commonly referred to, was eventually approved last year by the government to the satisfaction of the government and the companies.
Originally from Oklahoma, Zomer made aliya with his family in 2010, as Noble Energy’s director of corporate affairs.
He has a degree in political science from University of Texas and a law degree from the Washington University School of Law. Since the beginning, his career was marked by a very political angle, making connections in Washington as part of his senior position in AIPAC (serving as a lobbyist in Washington to strengthen US-Israel cooperation and as the organization’s head of energy security and homeland security efforts) and as a legal advisor.
Although he likes to joke about his Hebrew as he addresses different audiences, his language skills are remarkable, especially considering the fact that he has been living here only seven years. Indeed, it is likely that he would never have so successfully remained in his current position without it.