Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided not to put the gas outline agreement before the Knesset for a vote on Wednesday. No alternative date has been set and it is quite possible that there will be no vote at all.
Last week Minister of the Economy Aryeh Deri announced that he would probably not sign off on Clause 52, enabling the agreement to bypass outgoing Israel Antitrust Authority head David Gilo, even if it is not approved by the Knesset. Instead, Deri wants to wait until Gilo's successor is appointed and can study the gas outline agreement, and decide if the natural gas companies are exempt from cartel arrangements.
Thus it is not yet clear if the agreement needs to be presented to the Knesset at all. While many in the economy interpreted the significance of last week's comments on the matter by Deri as a delay of several months, a senior source in the energy sector said today, "The gas agreement is not just stuck, it won't be implemented at all. No regulator will agree to sign an exemption from cartel arrangements, when it's clear that the agreement is a cartel - especially after Gilo claimed that the agreement does not promote competition."
If all this were not enough, Leviathan's regional significance has been diminished by yesterday's announcement from Italian energy giant Eni that it has discovered the Zohr gas field offshore from Egypt. With an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, this is the largest gas field ever found in the Mediterranean.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 31, 2015
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