The Strategist

Israel joins the world gas race

03/29/2018 - 07:00

Israel is a country that, due to the lack of natural resources and primary materials, built its economy mainly on post-processing industries. However, after the discovery of large offshore natural gas fields, the tiny Mediterranean state plans to radically change the situation.

Karish and Tanin fields were discovered in the exclusive economic waters; their reserves are estimated at about 2 billion cu. ft. of gas. Along with Tamar and Leviathan fields, opened in 2009 and 2010, they will allow Israel to become an energetically independent country for the first time in its history.

But the Israelis do not want to stop. They are already actively looking for ways to enter foreign markets to export their gas. 

Back in 2016, Israel approved sale of Karish and Tanin to the Greek oil and gas company Energean Oil & Gas. In mid-March, its board of directors adopted a final investment decision (FID) to allocate $ 1.6 billion for the development of untouched deposits.

It is planned to build a floating production, storage and unloading system with a capacity of 8 billion cu. m. of gas per year. The Greeks will also build a 90-kilometer pipeline to transport the blue fuel from a marine facility to the mainland of Israel for connection to the internal gas network.

Energean's statement on signing long-term contracts with a number of large private power producers and industrial companies of Israel about deliveries of 61 billion cu. m. of gas also didn’t went unnoticed.

Recently, the Greek gas giant has attracted more than $ 400 million for this project through an initial public offering (IPO) in London.

Drilling in the Karish field should begin in 2019, and gas from it is expected to enter the domestic market in 2021.

After that, there will be 6 wells in Tanin, which will be connected to the floating production and unloading complex.

Energean will compete with the already developed and larger fields Tamar and Leviathan, the reserves of which are estimated at 8.4 trillion and 18.9 trillion cu. ft. of gas, respectively. These two fields are jointly operated by American Noble Energy and the Israeli Delek Group.

In addition, Israel has concluded an agreement with Egypt on gas exports. Despite its huge hydrocarbon reserves and shaky bilateral diplomatic relations, the Egyptians are ready to import the blue fuel from Leviathan and Tamara for $ 15 billion.

On the one hand, this deal will allow Israel to become a player in the global gas market for the first time. On the other hand, the contract will help Egypt to strengthen its position as a major gas hub in the region and, thus, to distract potential customers from the new export of Israeli gas.

In March, Israel broke a 15-year contract for $ 19.5 billion with a Spanish company, because the latter decided to buy hydrocarbons from the Egyptian Zohr field instead of Israeli gas.

Despite this failure, Israel has achieved impressive success in the gas industry, especially given the fact that the country had virtually zero natural resources just a few years ago. Having a large agreement with Egypt and promising gas fields, the Jewish state is confident in the rapid development of its own energy sector. 

Recently, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed a possible agreement with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, and Royal Dutch Shell announced its readiness to sign a 15-year contract with Israel to supply gas to its LNG plant in Egypt.

The key question is how long this trend will last. Some analysts fear that it will not be easy for Israel to remain attractive to foreign investors if Egypt becomes the key gas hub of the region.