The Environmental Protection Ministry imposed a NIS 457,100 sanction on Chevron's Middle East subsidiary “Chevron Mediterranean (Noble Energy)” on Monday for violations regarding the conditions on the Leviathan natural gas rig.
On October 17, 2020, there was a fire in the kitchen of the Leviathan oil rig, which was commissioned in 2019. After an emergency silence, the crew pumped gases into the rig's torches, per regulations, but the gases didn't burn due to the lack of a pilot flame, which is a violation of the rig's emission permit. There was an additional violation levied over the rig’s lack of the torch flame.
Chevron Mediterranean filed a report about the incident to the Environmental Protection Ministry in accordance with regulations. Following the emergency incident, an incorrect signal was sent that stopped power flow to the pilots' control panel – rather than the intended to route gas to the torches – resulting in all five pilots being turned off and gas being released into the air without proper treatment.
"This is a severe incident in which toxic gases were emitted into the air, contrary to the emission permit and against the law,” said Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg. “As in previous cases, we are taking necessary enforcement action against the pollutants. The ministry will continue monitoring companies that endanger the environment and the public, with determination and perseverance."
The recent incident is not Chevron Mediterranean’s first violation aboard the Leviathan rig: in 2020, they were fined $1.1 million by the Energy Ministry for "blatant violations" of water pollution regulations regarding over 30 breakdowns in the rig’s operation in just the first five months – including a gas leak that could have proved devastating, according to the ministry.