Israel Seeking Foreign Partners in Gas Fields

March 29, 2012  

Israeli officials are actively seeking foreign partners to help tap massive natural gas resources recently discovered off of its coast.

“All parties with expertise and know-how in prospecting, extraction and infrastructure are welcome,” Shaul Tzemah, head of Israel’s energy ministry, told French delegates at a seminar on Wednesday.

“It’s now or never – if you want a presence, there are opportunities to be grasped,” he told representatives of Electricité de France (EDF), Suez-Gaz de France and Technip.

France’s ambassador to Israel, Christophe Bigot, told the seminar, “French concerns must participate in this new energy, economic and industrial adventure. For now, we are unfortunately not very present in this sector, despite our recognized competence and expertise.”

Within two months, an official commission must present its conclusions on how much gas will be used in Israel and how much exported, most likely to Europe.

In anticipation of gas revenues, Israel’s government announced the creation of the first Israeli sovereign fund, which will receive royalties, and revenue from a special tax on gas and oil profits.

The fund is expected to reach about $80 billion by 2040.

Israel’s Delek Energy and US firm Noble Energy have struck gas offshore at the Tamar and Leviathan fields, 81 miles from Haifa, and more recently at the nearby Tanin 1 field.

Leviathan is believed to hold some 16 trillion cubic feet of gas, while Tamar has reserves of up to 8.4 trillion cubic feet. Tanin 1 could yield 1.2 trillion cubic feet.

Last June, Israel’s Hachshara Energy said it had discovered two additional natural gas fields, Sarah and Mira, 43 miles off Hadera, slightly further south. Initial tests indicate the latest finds could hold 6.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

In total, Tzemah believes Israel’s overall gas reserves could be over 35 trillion cubic feet for a nation with a limited domestic market – creating huge potential to reap export profits.

In 2010, Israel used 5.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas, most of it for energy generation. 

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