Israel in gas talks with Russia

Russian companies are examining options of participating in the development of Israeli gas, the Prime Minister's Office says.

The Israeli government confirms it is in talks with the Russian government on development of Israel's gas fields. The statement was made in a written response to a question by Meretz chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if it was true that, he discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin a "deal", under which Russia would stop shipments of sophisticated weapons to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in exchange for an Israeli commitment not to export gas to Europe.

The response to Gal-On stated that "such conditions" were not discussed between Israel and Russia, but, "Russian companies are examining options of participating in the development of the Israeli gas economy, and conseuqently the Russian government is interested in the Israeli gas economy."

Gal-On told "Globes" in response, "Instead of using natural gas as a lever for economic welfare and even peace, the prime minister and his emissaries are in secret negotiations with the nation of oligarchs."

Gazprom JSC (RTS: GAZP; LSE: GAZD; DAX: GAZ) has chalked up a series of failures in its attempts to gain a foothold in the Israeli, Cypriot, and Greek energy markets. A year ago, Gazprom expressed an interest in acquiring 30% of the rights in the Leviathan gas field, but never made a financial offer, because of strong US objections. Its last serious attempt to enter Israel was when Ariel Sharon was prime minister. He supported the idea of Gazprom building a pipeline to Israel from Turkey, but then-Minister of National Infrastructures Yosef Paritzky objected.

Paritzky told "Globes" today, "When I was Minister of National Infrastructures in 2003, I met, at the request of the prime minister at the time, with Gazprom representatives. Although Ariel Sharon was prepared to favorably consider its entry to Israel, I objected. I did not then, and I do not want now, for Israel to be under political pressure from Russia because of Gazprom's control of its energy sources. I hope that the prime minister will be wary of this now."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 29, 2013

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

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