(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel has offered to export natural gas to India, according to a Monday report in the Indian daily Economic Times.
Negotiations for the gas deal are set to intensify when India's foreign
minister visits Israel in January, according to the report.
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offer was said to be made by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz during his
visit to India last week. India has since announced its intention to
conduct further research on the possibility of a gas deal, and may soon
send a delegation to meet with officials in the Prime Minister's Office,
the Finance Ministry, and the Energy and Water Ministry. Finance Minister Steinitz confirmed Monday that Israel and India are
engaged in talks about the potential gas deal, and said that he "would be
happy to receive delegations from India" about the issue.
stated that India
currently receives most of its natural gas from Gulf countries such as
Qatar and Oman, but the country is still experiencing gas deficiencies.
Plans for a major India-Iran gas deal soured following a recent Indian
condemnation of the Iranian nuclear program at the UN. A planned gas
pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan was also scrapped due to
security considerations. Finally, India's domestic supply of natural gas,
primarily from the Krishna-Godavari basin, has seen a decrease in
production following pricing disputes.
News of the potential gas deal follows recent statements by Israeli
political leaders about the importance of diversifying the Israeli
economy and increasing exports to Asia. Last week, at the Globes Israel
Business Conference in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said
that the global economy will stall in the near future, and that Israel
should concentrate its efforts on sending exports to China, India,
Brazil and other emerging economies.
Netanyahu's statements echoed comments made last month by Finance
Minister Steinitz, who stated that a crash of the European economy could
cause a "5-10 year recession" not only in Europe but in the US and
Israel as well. Steinitz added that Israel has been working steadily to
increase exports to developing economies, saying that “one of our main
efforts is to push Israeli exports to the rest of the world, because 70
percent of Israel exports goes to the developed world and we are trying
to encourage exports to China, India and South America in order not to
be dependent only on Western nations.”
He said the plan had been successful thus far, with exports to
developing nations rising from 30% to more than 40% in the last two
Recent discoveries of gas in the Leviathan and Tamar fields have the
potential to turn Israel into an important player in the natural gas
industry. Estimates show that Leviathan has some 16 trillion cubic feet
of gas, worth over $160 billion. Tamar has an estimated eight trillion
cubic feet of gas, and production will begin in 2013.
Nadav Shemer and Shlomo Maital contributed to this report.