Bloomberg is reporting that a major natural gas discovery off the coast of Israel has created the potential of the Jewish state becoming an energy exporting country within the next two decades. The find has game changing implications.
“Noble, the Houston-based operator of the Leviathan block, said yesterday the area may have 16 trillion cubic feet of gas, as it also raised its estimate for the nearby Tamar field to 8.4 trillion cubic feet. Noble said all its areas in the eastern Mediterranean may hold as much as 30 trillion cubic feet.
“‘This has the potential to turn Israel into a key regional gas player, competing with the likes of Egypt,’ Guil Bashan, an analyst at IBI in Tel Aviv, said by phone. ‘This is also a major plus for the economy and for the partners operating the licenses, which can produce value by becoming major exporters.'”
Hitherto, Israel has been almost totally dependent on foreign sources for its energy needs. Israel had developed oil fields in the Sinai when it occupied that territory after the Six Day War, but was obliged to give up those resources when it ceded Sinai back to Egypt as part of the Camp David peace agreement.
The discovery of large reserves of natural has far reaching implications for not only Israel’s economy but for its position in the world community. Clearly having a large domestic source of energy will be beneficial for the Israeli economy. Not only will the natural has constitute a steady, reliable source, but taxes on revenues will buttress the Israeli government’s income, important for a state that must maintain a large military against various enemies.
Israel as an exporter of energy would derive a certain degree of clout in the world that hitherto it has not enjoyed. When favoring Israel’s Muslim enemies over Israel, many countries cite the oft quoted saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven may run on righteousness, but the Kingdoms of the Earth run on oil.” Or natural gas, as it were. The incentive to treat Israel as a pariah to appease Muslim oil countries would be somewhat lessened by Israel being able to export energy to other countries.
The natural gas find does not come without problems. First, many billions will have to be invested in infrastructure, including off shore gas wells, pipelines, facilities for liquefying the natural gas, and port facilities for tankers.
Second, Israel’s new natural gas industry will become a prime target for terrorists, particularly Hamas and Hezzbollah. Israel will have to beef up its Naval and Air Force to protect a far flung system of wells and pipelines from terrorist attack. Israel’s enemies will be eager to attack that system to cripple her economy.
But the promise of a beefed up economy and new world wide clout surely outweigh the problems.
Source: Israel May Join Gas Exporting Nations With Leviathan Discovery, David Wainer, Bloomberg, June 4th, 2010