Gas Discovery Changes Israel’s Energy Picture

Gas Discovery Changes Israel’s Energy Picture

A huge natural gas discovery 50 miles off the Israeli coast at Haifa could potentially meet Israel's energy needs for 20 years once it eventually comes online. In January 2009, a consortium led by U.S. energy exploration company Noble Energy announced the discovery of three massive gas fields, with one of the group's partners calling the find "one of the biggest in the world" that represented a "historic landmark in the economic dependence of Israel."

By February, the group announced that further flow testing analysis at the Tamar 1 field had increased the initial huge projection of 3.1 trillion cubic feet to 5 trillion cubic feet, with an ultimate production rate of 30 to 150 million cubic feet per day. One industry executive quoted by the Jerusalem Post said the find, if it lives up to its billing, represented "a revolution" that would impact the Israeli economy for generations, "[turning] Israel from a gas importer into a gas exporter." Another analyst put the estimated potential value of the find at $15.5 billion.

Although pumped gas is not expected on-stream before 2012, the discovery is well-timed, with Israel in the process of converting its old power plants from oil-driven to gas-driven. The supply would be sufficient to power Israel's electricity plants and supply all of its business and domestic gas needs, with some to spare for export, eventually putting an end to Israel's reliance on imported gas for at least two decades. Seismic testing for another promising field located just 28 miles off the Israeli coast will be conducted in late 2009.

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