Israel Strikes "Natural Gas" Pocket, Promising Energy Independence for 15 Years

natural gas reserve israel imageAmidst all its struggles to develop clean and cleaner technologies (and a war with Gaza), it seem that Israelis got a huge gift this week: Israelis were celebrating this week over the discovery of a massive 3 trillion cubic feet natural gas pocket found buried 1.5 km below the sea floor, some 90 km off the coastal city Haifa.

I’d spoke yesterday with a rep from one of the major stakeholders, Shaya Segal from Delek Drilling, who confirms the find, but who, like the local analysts were saying, says that it will take about 2.5 weeks to know what the discovery can mean. 

I’ve read reports that taking the natural gas stock from the pocket called Tamar, after the granddaughter of a geologist working at the site, will cost somewhere around $1 billion. But that the value of it amounts to about $15 billion. 

If Israelis can pull the gas from the seafloor, with the help of a major Houston-based stockholder Noble Energy, then they could, say reports, be close to energy independent for 15 years. That means buying less fuel resources from Egypt, and other less than friendly neighbors.

But natural gas, a fossil fuel, is not exactly a clean fuel. 

The find does question however, the direction of Israel’s future and the development of clean technologies. I imagine the discovery is exciting for Shay Agassi at Better Place, who I’ve personally criticized. His plan to use electric cars in Israel was a good idea on paper, but up until now, it looked as though Israel’s power plants would continue to be fueled by very polluting coal sources. 

Meanwhile, according to the Jerusalem Post, just when Israelis and Gazans were hoping for quiet, after a ceasefire earlier in the week, we learn that Lebanon is claiming that part of the Tamar natural gas reserve is in Lebanese territorial waters:

“The Lebanese government might warn Noble Energy Inc., a US corporation which is part of the consortium that discovered the Tamar 1 gas reserve off the shores of Haifa, that the reserve may be in part in Lebanese territorial waters, according to Al Liwaa, a Lebanese paper.

“In a meeting of the Energy, Infrastructure and Public Works Committee in the Lebanese Parliament, Chairman Muhammad Kabbani said Israeli media reports on the recently discovered natural gas reserve raise the possibility that the reserve extends to Lebanon’s territorial waters. “We should take every legal measure possible in order to preserve Lebanon’s right,” the paper quoted Kabbani as saying.”

What’s certain, is that it’s never boring over in these parts of the world. 

For more on the story unfolding in Israel, read an earlier piece by Green Prophet’s Maurice on the natural gas found off the coast of Gaza


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