Gas export decision imminent

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Energy Minister Silvan Shalom, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer will decide on the matter today.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Energy and Water Resources Silvan Shalom, Minister of Finance Yair Lapid and Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer will meet today to decide on the recommendations they will put forward on natural gas exports, sources inform "Globes." The four men will draft a decision that will be submitted to the cabinet on Sunday for approval.

Also taking part in today's crucial meeting will be Prime Minister's Office director general Harel Locker and Ministry of Energy and Water Resources director general Shaul Tzemach whose report on gas exports will form the basis for the recommendations to be approved.

Today's meeting follows a discussion on the matter last week by Netanyahu, Shalom, Lapid and Fischer. The main issue yet to be resolved is if natural gas sales to Jordan and the Palestinian Authority should be considered part of the export quota. If the four men are able to reach agreement today, then a joint statement will be put out detailing the principles of the proposal that will be submitted to the cabinet on Sunday.

As already revealed by "Globes," market sources believe that the cabinet will decide to reduce the amount of gas permitted for export to 40% of total reserves, down from the 50% recommended in the Tzemach report.

Even 40% gas exports will arouse enormous opposition in the Knesset led by Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich. Meanwhile the Hatenua party led by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has joined the petition signed by 60 MKs demanding that the final decision on the topic of gas exports be taken by the Knesset rather than the cabinet.

Market sources believe that the gas export decision has been delayed for so long because Netanyahu and Shalom are eager to ensure a broad consensus in the cabinet but for the matter is brought to a vote. Opposition in the cabinet is led by Minister of Environmental Protection Amir Peretz who believes that 600 billion cubic meters of gas should be kept for domestic use rather than the 450 BCM recommended in the Tzemach report.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (ASX:WPL) CEO Peter Coleman has set June 30 as the deadline for the government decision on gas exports. Woodside which has expertise in LNG project for export has agreed to acquire 30% of the Leviathan field but could withdraw from the deal if there are further delays.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on June 19, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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