Yuval Steinitz at the Jerusalem Post's Diplomatic Conference.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Although the past year has been challenging with setbacks in developing the Leviathan offshore gas reservoir, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz said Thursday that Israel was planning to develop new gas fields in the coming months.
The next step, he said during a panel discussion, is to develop the natural gas market and integrate it into the larger geopolitical picture.
“I have no doubt that in the next three years, gas field advancements and the integration of natural gas into factories and transportation... will be an engine for growth,” he said. “It may be able to save us from a recession and return us to a reasonable growth level.”
Steinitz said that he intends to develop more offshore gas fields “by this autumn: September, October, November.”
He spoke of a vision for the next decade in which Israel will be a major player in the energy market and said “we estimate that the amount of gas that is expected to be found... is around 2,000 billion cubic meters. As much as four Leviathans or eight Tamar [gas reservoirs].”
Exporting natural gas to neighboring states in the Mediterranean and the Middle East could have “major benefits for Israel’s status in the region,” Steinitz said.
Many on the panel expressed disappointment at the delays in advancing the country’s natural gas market. In the past year, a number of Israeli factories that had received subsidies to convert to natural gas power, switched back to oil power.
Yossi Abu, CEO of Delek Drilling, bemoaned that the market has been stuck but noted that “today, two weeks after IPM [IPM Be’er Tuvia Power Plant Ltd.] signed a gas agreement, other power plants are looking to sign too."
He said that Delek and its partners developing Leviathan will make their investment decisions in December, but noted that they will have already invested NIS 500 million in the venture in 2016.
Shaul Meridor, the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry’s deputy director- general, said that despite estimations that there is plenty of natural gas, factories that have signed agreements have already been warned that they might not have natural gas during peak hours.
In a separate panel on the global energy market, experts spoke of an oversupply of oil and natural gas in the world.
Robert McNally, founder and president of Washington- based independent energy consulting firm the Rapidan Group, pinpointed three major oil market trends during the next three decades. First, he said that world dependence on oil from the OPEC countries will grow to about 50 percent from the current 42 percent.
That will coincide with a shift in the world’s oil exports.
McNally, a former special assistant to president George W.
Bush and senior director for International Energy on the US National Security Council, said that while currently most of the world’s oil flows from the Middle East to developed countries, by 2040, developing countries, especially in Asia, will comprise a major share of the oil import market.
He also predicted that oil prices will become more volatile than ever after a relatively stable market in the past 50 years.
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