The Knesset Economics Committee continues its discussions on the gas agreement with Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Dore Gold among today's speakers. He said, "Developing Israel's gas is an important opportunity to improve Israel's status and bring it into the exclusive club of energy exporters. Delay in getting the process going will cause damage to Israel's interests. Jordan needs energy to develop government stability. We have a letter of intent for Israel's energy companies to export gas to the Jordanian electricity company. It is a main anchor for the development of Jordan's economy. Even though it is not a binding agreement, not implementing development of the gas and blocking Israeli gas going to Jordan won't be good for our relations with the Hashemite Kingdom."
He added, "Jordan's leadership has pushed for signing the agreement and there were strong voices in the opposition. They created opposition to relations with Israel. Nevertheless, the Jordanian leadership pushed for an agreement despite the political risk. Supply of gas will help Jordan pull out of its economic crisis. If Israel won't export to Jordan, it will seek an alternative that is not positive for Israel. In 2003, we heard that Iran was ready to supply gas to Jordan via Iraq. In November 2015, Iran signed an agreement to double its gas exports to Iraq by 2017."
Gold added, "If the US is the main sponsor pushing the sides to sign the letter of intent and is stressing its implementation, then delaying development of Leviathan harms US interests as well as economic relations between Israel and the US. There are already signs of American impatience."
He continued, "Europe is also showing interest in the development of the fields and Israeli gas exports. Developing the Leviathan field will be a major development in relations with Cyprus and Greece. Italian company Edison has offered to lay a pipeline from Leviathan and Aphrodite to Greece and from there to Italy. They have asked to receive EU financing for this project. Europe's energy problems are not simple. If we develop Israeli, Cypriot and Egyptian gas then our region will become more important for Europe's energy security.
Gold concluded by saying that Israel's image has been hit by the delay in developing the country's gas. "Economic stability and attracting investors constitute a diplomatic, strategic and economic interest. Israel is looking for new gas investors. A further delay will cause companies to leave Israel.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 3, 2015
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