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Monday, March 08, 2010

Golda was wrong

Former Prime Minister Golda Meir famously complained that Moses could have picked somewhere other than "the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil" as a Jewish homeland. Golda was wrong. Sort of.

It turns out that Israel has natural gas - and lots of it - right offshore. As a result of a huge natural gas discovery, Israel is likely to meet its domestic needs for natural gas by 2012, and may even become a natural gas exporter.
"Our thoughts are that will exceed what the market will need," Davidson said. "It's significant to Israel and what it can do for this country in terms of lowering energy costs."

Tamar's five wells are each expected to pump 150 million cubic feet of natural gas per day – a pace on par with the Houston company's other wells operating in places like the Gulf of Mexico, he said. The company hopes to open operations in a second Israeli field, called Dalit, at a later time.


Israeli officials expect demand for natural gas to more than double over the next decade, fueled by economic growth and a shift away from coal – which currently powers about 60% of electricity production. That makes some Israeli officials skeptical that Tamar will produce enough natural gas to meet the country's needs.

Egyptian company East Mediterranean Gas started exporting natural gas to Israel in 2008, under a 20-year agreement at a fixed price. Earlier this week, an Egyptian high court ruled that the company must price the gas to reflect international market rates.

"If the Egyptians provide us with reliable and relatively cheap gas, I can't see how the Israeli market or our ministries would reject it," said Constantine Blyuz, chief economist for the natural gas authority at the Ministry of National Infrastructures. "It's not the government's decision, it's the individual consumers."


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