Israel Seeks New Gas Routes to Europe
Israel has overcome delays to the development of its offshore natural gas fields and wants to establish at least two export routes to Western Europe, its energy minister said.
Major gas discoveries over the past seven years brought Israel into the world of hydrocarbons, but political hurdles and red tape have stymied new developments and exploration.
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz sought to reassure investors on the first stop of a roadshow for the country's maiden offshore exploration licensing round.
"Israel is back in business after a few years of delay," Steinitz said at the event in London.
"The regulation is fixed, generally speaking, and we also guarantee that if there are changes, we will keep the general framework and profitability of all projects," he said.
The new regulatory framework guarantees Israel would receive 540 billion cubic meters of gas over the next 35 years, but any additional volumes can be exported, Steinitz said.
While Israel plans to initially export gas to neighboring Jordan, Egypt and Turkey, it is also examining three options to access the Western European market - via existing LNG terminals in Egypt, a pipeline running to Turkey or a pipeline to Greece through Cyprus.
"All of them are under serious examination and we already have some dialogue. At the end of the day I want to establish at least two, if not all three options. If we discover new fields those projects will be justified," Steinitz said.
Israel and Turkey, which recently mended ties after a six-year rift, hope to complete a gas pipeline linking the two countries within three years, he said.
Initial geological studies indicated that it is "highly probable" that there are around 2,200 bcm of gas to be discovered on top of some 900 bcm already found in fields such as the giant Tamar and Leviathan deposits.
Noble Energy received approval for the development of the Leviathan project in June.
The plan involves a subsea system that connects production wells to a fixed platform located offshore with tie-in onshore in the northern part of Israel.
Noble has also secured a gas sales and purchase agreement to supply natural gas from the Leviathan field to IPM Beer Tuvia. Noble Energy and the Leviathan partners will supply a gross quantity of up to 473 billion cubic feet of natural gas to a newbuild independent power facility over an 18-year term.
The development of Leviathan has been delayed by a number of regulatory hurdles including disapproval as anti-competitive in 2014. Noble is the only international company currently operating in Israel, after Woodside Petroleum pulled out of negotiations in 2014.
The Leviathan field, the largest, is estimated to contain over 22 trillion cubic feet of gas. The Tamar field is estimated to contain about half of that.
Europe consumes around 420 bcm each year.
Israel plans to offer 24 exploration blocks in its maritime territory in a bidding round that is expected to be launched in November.