NGO warns: Keep enough gas for domestic use

Adam Teva V’Din to legislators: Make sure you keep enough offshore gas for use at home.

Tamar natural gas rig 370 (photo credit: Albatross)
Tamar natural gas rig 370
(photo credit: Albatross)
Environmental advocacy group Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) has distributed a question-and-answer guide to MKs about minimizing natural gas export, the group announced on Sunday.
As gas from the Tamar offshore reservoir began to flow into Israel a week ago, green groups have responded by pressuring government officials to ensure that the country keeps enough for its own citizens. The 250 billioncubic- meter supply from Tamar alone would be able to support Israel for the next 25 years, and the developers have estimated that adjacent Leviathan reservoir contains about double the supply.
Government officials have yet to agree on the quantity to be allotted for export, but the Zemach Committee – headed by Energy and Water Ministry director-general Shaul Zemach – has recommended that the export be no more than 500 billion cu.m. total.
While energy officials argue that such a sizable export allowance will encourage further exploration and development in the Mediterranean, environmentalists have warned that Israel must minimize its gas exports. Both current Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz and former minister Gilad Erdan have voiced such words of caution.
In the Adam Teva V’Din guide, scientists and lawyers from the organization stress that the MKs have the responsibility to oppose the Zemach Committee’s recommendations. There must be a campaign to restructure the gas export plans, as the current one will maximize the profits of captains of industry, and cause irreversible damage to the health and pockets of Israelis, the document argues.
The guide provides nine questions and answers about how the Zemach Committee conducted its research and made its final recommendations.
Among these is the issue of natural gas policy around the world, the document said. The “United States gas superpower,” for example, only exports 6 percent of its natural gas, while countries, like Australia and Argentina, that have been more free with their export policies have ended up losing their resources entirely, the organization said.
In addition, the guide rebuts the claims of gas industry leaders that if Israel does not export the gas, development here will not be profitable.
The value of the Leviathan basin is in the tens of billions of dollars, while the cost of development the reservoir is only a couple of billion dollars, argued the head of the Adam Teva V’Din’s economics and environmental department, attorney Dana Tabachnik.
Moreover, the guide criticizes the Zemach Committee for drawing its conclusions largely on speculative assumptions about future needs and prices, without properly substantive economic assessments, according to the air and energy department head at the organization, Dr. Arie Wenger.
“The split personality of the state’s leaders is incomprehensible – on the one hand they are celebrating the flow of gas from Tamar and are talking about Israel as an energy superpower, and on the other hand they are considering selling all of its gas reserves and leaving the public with polluting energy,” said Amit Bracha, executive director of Adam Teva V’Din.
The Energy and Water Ministry has in the past week reiterated that the topic is to be discussed soon, after which the office will make its final recommendations toward the cabinet’s decision on the issue.