Israeli and Jordanian officials signed a deal Wednesday under which Israel will supply $500 million worth of gas to the Hashemite kingdom from the Tamar natural gas field in the Mediterranean.
The supply is set to start in 2016, and to continue over a 15-year period. Ultimately, however, the deal may be expanded to a $30-billion mammoth partnership, under which Israel would become the major supplier of Jordan’s gas needs, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported.
It said that a key broker of the deal was Amos J. Hochstein, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for energy diplomacy, a child of Israeli parents, who made 14 visits to Jordan to help pave the way for the agreement. The TV report said Israel’s President Shimon Peres also helped the deal along.
Under the deal, Tamar will supply 66 billion cubic feet to Jordan’s Arab Potash and its affiliate, Jordan Bromine, at their facilities near the Dead Sea, according to a statement issued by Texas-based Noble Energy, which owns 36 percent of the Tamar field.
The Jordanians turned to Israel because their supply of natural gas from Egypt had been halted by repeated terrorist attacks on the gas pipeline from Egypt, the TV report said.
Israel decided last year to export 40 percent of the country’s offshore gas finds.
In March 2013, Israel began pumping natural gas from the Tamar deposit — discovered in 2009 and located some 90 kilometers (56 miles) west of Haifa — which holds an estimated 8.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
In addition to Tamar, in 2010 an even larger deposit, Leviathan — which boasts an estimated 16-18 trillion cubic feet of gas — was discovered 130 kilometers (81 miles) west of Haifa. It is expected to become operational in 2016.
The decision on gas exports grew out of conclusions published by the Tzemach Committee headed by former Water and Energy Ministry director general Shaul Tzemach. The committee, formed in late 2011, had called on Israel to keep the first 450 billion cubic meters for domestic use, and allow the export of up to half of any additional amount extracted from the proven reserves.
Israel is also exploring possible gas exports to Turkey, the TV report said Wednesday, despite the current strained relations between Jerusalem and Ankara.
“This deal will pave the way for additional export projects which could enhance regional cooperation as well as provide additional supply to the domestic market and enhanced security of supply through development of additional reservoirs and infrastructure,” said Lawson Freeman, Noble’s Eastern Mediterranean vice president.