Gas supply resumes after computer glitch is fixed

Israel Electric Corporation continues use of polluting fuel, diesel oil but expected to return to natural gas.

By EHUD ZION WALDOKS
March 5, 2011 20:26
2 minute read.
Drillling for gas offshore

Offshore Gas Drilling 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

After the Yam Tethys conglomerate, which operates the Mari-B natural gas field off Ashdod, said Saturday that a computer glitch was temporarily preventing the gas from coming back onstream, Noble energy, a partner in Yam Tethys and the site’s operator, announced that the glitch had been resolved late Saturday evening.

The gas supply would resume to all clients before morning, Noble said.

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While Israel had been temporarily left without natural gas, there was no danger of power outages because the Israel Electric Corporation was able to run their turbines on fuel and diesel oil instead, even though they are much more polluting than natural gas.

Noble had asked for and received permission to stop the supply of gas on Saturday in order to increase the pressure to be able to produce more gas to meet future needs. While the 12-hour operation was apparently successful, a computer glitch prevented the immediate return of service.

Yam Tethys provides 20 percent of the natural gas that Israel uses to run 40% of its electricity generation capacity. The other 20% had been provided by the Egyptians through the EMG Company.

The gas supply from Egypt has been halted since an explosion at a nearby pipeline on February 5.

While one of the investors in EMG had said the gas supply would be resumed on Friday, they subsequently said it would not be resumed yet, and gave no future date for its resumption.

National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau commented Saturday night: “First of all, I would like to reiterate and emphasize that Israel is prepared for any scenario in which the supply of gas is halted; and, despite largely unforeseen incidents, the steady supply of electricity has not been compromised.

However, we must remember that incidents such as these have a price – financial and environmental.”

Landau, who is in the US at the moment, went on in his statement to call on the government to approve the dualfuel power plant in Ashkelon, stop holding up the development of the Tamar gas field, and approve a northern hook-up for natural gas.

“Those who would prevent the dual fuel [it would run on natural gas with a backup coal capacity] power plant get power plants running on even more polluting and expensive fuel and diesel oil instead,” he charged.

To ensure safety of supply, Landau also called for a northern station to be built connecting the offshore fields to the natural gas national pipeline.

“We cannot have just one pipe for natural gas,” he said.

Landau also called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to hold an urgent meeting to make these “crucial decisions for the energy market.”


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