Friday, December 28, 2012

Lots of GAS

No, this has nothing to do with my digestive system.  You remember the old adage that if Moses had turned right (coming out of Egypt) he would have got the oil, but instead he turned left and got the Holy Land and a lot of sand.  Well, its not quite true, Moses turned left and got the GAS!
Israeli and international companies have found major reserves of natural gas in drillings out in the Eastern Mediterranean between Israel and Cyprus about 100-130 km west of Haifa.  The Tamar well was the first discovered in 2005 that has large reserves.  The Leviathan well is calculated to have as much natural gas (600 billion cubic meters) and oil as the reserves of the US (in shale oil) and of Saudi Arabia (in crude oil).  It will make Israel independent of foreign gas and oil and will drastically change the balance of energy power in the eastern Mediterranean.  It will drive Cyprus closer to Israel because Cyprus also shares in the find, but Israel has the capability to harvest the gas and also the means to provide security and protect the wells and supply lines. 
Lebanon has laid claim to some of the wells, but Israel and Cyprus deny these claims.  WIthin this claim lies the potential for a war-like situation, but Israel is already planning a new form of defence force to secure the integrity of the wells.  You could imagine severarl threats, for example, terrorists from Lebanon coming out in a boat loaded with explosives, or Turkey deciding to support Lebanon and sending a gunboat or even planes over to bomb the site.  Such scenarios are extreme, but when there is a billion dollar investment involved as well as the future energy independence of the country, military planners must prepare for the uncertain future.   
It is hard to imagine how transformative this discovery will be.  Not only will it make Israel energy-independent in the long run, but it will also make Israel quite rich.  We will become more like the Gulf States, or the Emirates, only better, because we have a much higher technological base.  At present the wells are being developed for production and there is still legal wrangling over the proceeds, who will get what percentage.  But, wait another ten years and you'll see the Eastern Mediterranean transformed. 


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