Israel exports crude oil for first time, with shipment heading for Europe

Country joins ‘club of international oil exporters’ with first cargo load of hydrocarbon liquids extracted from offshore Karish natural gas field

Energean's floating production system (FPSO) at the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. (Energean)
Energean's floating production system (FPSO) at the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. (Energean)

Israel has exported crude oil material for the first time, with a shipment headed to Europe from the country’s offshore Karish gas field, according to an announcement Tuesday by Greek gas company Energean. The London- and Tel Aviv-listed firm is in charge of production at the Karish and Tanin natural gas fields in Israel’s economic waters in the Mediterranean.

In a statement Tuesday, Energean said “the first ever lifting of an Israeli crude oil cargo has taken place at the company’s Karish field,” and a cargo ship of hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs) extracted from natural gas (and then used in a mixture to make crude oil) was exported to global markets “for the first time in the history of Israeli oil and gas production.”

“This creates a significant differentiated income stream, fundamentally separate to gas-derived revenues,” Energean said, welcoming Israel into the “club of international oil exporters.” The cargo was “sold as part of a multi-cargo marketing agreement with Vitol; the first of a new source of East Med energy to reach Europe,” it added.

Energean got the green light last October to begin production at Karish, a day before Israel and Lebanon signed a long-awaited, US-brokered maritime border deal that ended a dispute over the gas field.

The Karish and Tanin fields contain a total of around 75 billion cubic meters of natural gas. About 12 billion cubic meters are consumed annually in Israel.

Karish is Israel’s third offshore natural gas rig, joining Tamar and Leviathan, with each connected to the mainland by separate infrastructure. Israel began exporting natural gas in 2017 — in a first deal with neighboring Jordan and then Egypt — as it started a path toward energy independence which has largely shielded it from the worst of the ongoing energy crisis sparked by the Russian war on Ukraine last year.

In June, Israel signed a new deal with Cairo and the European Union to export natural gas to the bloc via Egypt as demand for its gas exports grows.

Energean said the firm would remain focused on natural gas “with our Israeli gas production central to our role in enabling the energy transition” but that “light, sweet crude oil responsibly produced… is very much in demand globally,” according to Nick Witney, Energean Group commercial director.

“We are happy and proud that Energean has facilitated Israel joining the club of international oil exporters,” said Energean CEO Mathios Rigas.

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