Compared to its Arab neighbors, Israel’s oil and gas reserves are scant, of which the government is painfully aware. So eager are they to find and develop their own such reserves they passed the Israel Petroleum Law (1952), which essentially gives free reign to the first person to discover oil to rake it all up as swiftly as possible. They’ll take anything: oil shale, a very destructive and inefficient source of energy, and yes, they’ll take gas too.
Gas as panacea
The gas discoveries at the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields have sent a ripple of excitement through stakeholders, as though the panacea for Israel’s energy woes has finally arrived. According to a Globes report, investors pumped up Israeli energy company shares in anticipation.
Of course, the discovery is not without controversy, given the territorial dispute still outstanding between Israel and Lebanon, not to mention the potential environmental impact of extraction.
Nonetheless, critics worry that the discovery will lead to apathy in other areas.
Mira Awwad quotes from a New York Times article that Israelis, in response to the dirth of oil and gas supplies until now were “obliged to live off their wits, Israelis turned their country into a high-tech haven.”
However, there is concern that if they don’t take the gas supplies in stride, “Israel could blow its windfall and turn into a nation of single-resource slackers.”
Israel’s gas won’t solve all woes
Although US Geologist Christopher Schenk believes that the discovery will afford Israel sufficient gas for its own constituents over the next generation, and may even turn them into energy exporters, University of Haifa Professor Brenda Shaffer brings the subject back down to earth.
Professor Shaffer does think that the gas could be a boon for Israel’s economy, if handled properly, she told Awwad that “Qatar is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world and it has not turned into a major power. Having oil and gas doesn’t solve your problems.”
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