IEC gets go-ahead to lease LNG buoy, gasification vessel

Move a "step in the right direction," says expert, seen as effort to help bridge gaps likely to occur between depletion of current gas supply and development of new Tamar gas reserves.

tamar offshore gas field_311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
tamar offshore gas field_311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
An Electricity Authority plenum has approved the request of the Israel Electric Corporation to temporarily lease a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) buoy and gasification vessel, in an effort to help bridge the gaps likely to occur between the depletion of Israel’s current Mari-B Yam Tethys gas supply and the development of the new Tamar gas reserves, the Public Utility Authority announced on Wednesday morning.
The Yam Tethys supply is expected to be consumed sometime in 2012, while Tamar will probably only come on board during the second half of 2012, the PUA said in a statement.
Experts in the past have similarly predicted to The Jerusalem Post that Tamar would be ready sometime between 2012 and 2013.
“This means that in 2013, a natural gas shortage is expected that will bring in the use of alternative fuels which are more polluting and expensive,” the statement said, citing sources like fuel oil and diesel as possible – and unattractive – alternatives.
“According to the Natural Gas Authority, the only way to alleviate a portion of the 2013 natural gas shortage will be a technology that employs a buoy and gasification vessel, whose activity is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2013,” the statement said.
The buoy will provide 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and the ship will likely be available for use by third parties who can use its infrastructure by paying a fee to the IEC, the PUA said.
The PUA’s decision follows a similar choice last week in which the National Infrastructures Ministry instructed Israel Oil Co. and Noble Energy respectively to begin developing the small Or and Noa natural gas fields off the coast of Ashkelon, which will in total supply about 2.2 b. cubic meters of natural gas.
While praising the government’s efforts to get started on bringing LNG to Israel, one expert emphasized his hope that the government would eventually turn to a more permanent, anchored regasification unit rather than the temporary buoy solution.
Dr. Amit Mor, CEO and energy specialist at the Eco Energy consulting firm, has estimated to the Post in the past that it will take less than two years but approximately $200 million to install such a semi-permanent system, in which the gas supply could constantly be replenished by tankers.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” he told the Post Wednesday afternoon.
“Nevertheless, it is crucial for Israel to have a permanent, floating storage regasification ship anchored offshore Israel to serve as a backup to the shortage in the gas supply, and for commercial utilization. We need the government to go ahead and issue a tender for such a project as previously planned.”