Two Israeli natural gas fields to start pumping in 2020
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Two Israeli natural gas fields to start pumping in 2020

Energy minister says development of Karish and Tanin deposits will lead to increased competition, lower gas prices

Part of a platform being taken from the coast of Israel towards the Tamar gas field in this undated photo. (courtesy Noble Energy)
Part of a platform being taken from the coast of Israel towards the Tamar gas field in this undated photo. (courtesy Noble Energy)

The Energy Ministry officially presented its plan Tuesday for developing the Karish and Tanin natural gas fields, which sit alongside the larger Tamar and Leviathan deposits in Israel’s economic waters in the Mediterranean.

The development plan “shows [Israel’s ability] to keep to the schedule” of development,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement. Once the new fields are operational, “competition will increase and prices… will fall.”

The plan calls for Karish, or “shark,” to be developed first, followed by Tanin, or “crocodile,” if there is sufficient demand in the Israeli market.

The two fields are believed to contain some 55 billion cubic meters of gas, which the development plan says will flow to Israel’s shores by 2020.

Illustrative photo of a natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
Illustrative photo of a natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

As part of the development plan, the Energy Ministry said, a floating production storage and offloading ship vessel will be placed 90 kilometers (56 miles) offshore, where the gas from the two fields will be treated, stored and prepared for export.

In December, Israel approved the sale of the two fields to Greek firm Energean.

Prior to the sale agreement, Karish and Tanin had initially been allocated to a consortium grouping US firm Noble Energy and the Israeli group Delek, which already control the Tamar and Leviathan fields.

“We have decided to put an end to this monopoly situation,” Steinitz said at the time, explaining the consortium’s sale of exploitation rights in the two fields to Energean for $150 million (NIS 570 million).

Regulators have charged that the government’s original deal with Noble and Delek violated antitrust laws. In March, 2016, the High Court of Justice shot down the deal’s “stability clause,” which would have prevented the government from imposing regulatory changes, such as breaking up suspected monopolies, on the consortium for a full 10 years.

According to the minister, total production from the four fields would bring in $92 billion (NIS 350 billion), or “more than all the US aid granted over the years to Israel.”

Israel currently relies on a single working field, Tamar, and a single pipeline to shore from that field for a large part of its electricity production — a dependence that many security planners have pointed to as a potential strategic vulnerability in any future conflict.

In February, Noble Energy announced it was pushing ahead with the development of Israel’s offshore Leviathan field, securing financing for the nearly $4 billion project and planning on bringing it online by 2019.

AFP contributed to this report.

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