Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Karine Elharrar has announced the opening of a new competitive process for natural gas exploration licenses in the Mediterranean. Elharrar has gone back on her previous decision last year not to launch a new offshore licensing round due to the growing demand for natural gas in Europe following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and to help bridge the intermediary period before the shift to renewable energy.
At a press conference in Jerusalem, Elharrar said, "Alongside the necessity of moving forward on renewable energy in the State of Israel, after it has been neglected for many years, the Russia-Ukraine war has illustrated in recent months the dangers and risks of energy availability and prices, during the transition period from fossil fuel use.
"On the one hand, there is the problematic reliance of Europe on oil and gas supply from Russia. On the other hand, there is the inability to supply the needs of energy economies relying exclusively on renewable energy based on existing technologies. Alongside sincere and genuine concern at what is happening in Europe, the global energy crisis represents an enormous opportunity for the State of Israel to export natural gas."
"Israel's economic needs will always take priority"
Elharrar told "Globes" that following talks over the past few months with her counterparts in Europe and Egypt, a memorandum of understanding weill be signed in the coming weeks that will lay the infrastructure for Israeli gas sales via Egypt to Europe. The MoU will be a three-way agreement between the EU, Egypt and Israel, which will be similar to the agreement already signed with Egypt, and which will allow natural gas companies to sign commercial agreements between them and transport large amounts of natural gas to Egypt for liquefaction, and from there to Europe.
Elharrar added that most of the gas will be transported in existing pipelines including the Nizzana pipeline to the liquefaction facilities in Egypt. Other ways of transporting gas to Europe are also being examined. Among the methods being considered are liquid natural gas (LNG) ships, which would anchor off the coast of Israel as well as various marine pipelines from the offshore fields to Egypt, Turkey or Western Europe.
Elharrar added, "Examination of the EastMed pipeline to Europe continues, and the question is whether it would be economically worthwhile to build the pipeline."
When asked about keeping back gas reserves for Israel, Elharrar said, "The needs of the Israeli economy will always take priority, also from the point of view of the required reserves for years ahead. Now, with the start of an additional process, the fourth, for natural gas exploration, and the hope that we will succeed, we can also increase the scale of blue and white gas production and exports to Europe."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 30, 2022.
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