Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Israeli energy independence

What might be a watershed in Israeli history started Tuesday when the Tamar gas-field situated 90 miles due west of Haifa came on-line and started pumping liquefied natural gas (LNG) into the reservoirs at Ashdod.   It has taken 3 years to build the Tamar platform and lay the pipeline.  Although there are locations closer in Israel than Ashdod, that was the most convenient place for the terminal from the industrial and environmental aspects.  What this does, more than electric cars and any other alternative source of energy, is make Israel independent of the gasoline-producing Arab States and OPEC.  LNG is the least polluting of all the fossil fuels.
It has been estimated that in its first 5 years of operation the Tamar gas-field will save the Israeli state 30 billion dollars and will last at least 30 years. The deal that had been signed with Egypt to deliver natural gas was disrupted 5 times by the pipeline being blown up in the northern Sinai desert since the overthrow of Pres. Mubarak.  This and the rise in gasoline prices world-wide has raised prices of gasoline in Israel.  But, for the first time in recent memory the prices are actually going down 2.5% tonite, and this is attributed to the Tamar field going on-line and the prospects for energy independence in Israel.  The gas from theTamar field will not be exported but will be used domestically mainly for electricity generation.
Soon the much larger (5-10 times) gas field known as Leviathan will go on-line and this is expected to have so much LNG that Israel can start exporting it.  The recipients of this gas are not yet determined, but Turkey may be one of the beneficiaries.  Actually exporting gas will not only add huge income to the Israeli Government coffers, but will also undermine other countries dependence on Arab oil.  For the next twenty years the face of the Middle East will be changed by these gas fields, by Israeli affluence and energy independence. 


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