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Tel Aviv - Israeli Natural Gas Find Keeps On Getting Bigger But Could Ignite Trouble

Published on: June 16, 2010 09:19 PM
By:  UPI
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Tel Aviv - Israel’s natural gas bonanza in the eastern Mediterranean just keep getting bigger, with reserves currently pegged at around 25 trillion cubic feet.

That’s enough to guarantee the Jewish state, dependent on imported energy since it was founded in 1948, energy security for at least two decades.

The strikes at three fields, dubbed Tamar, Dalat and Leviathan, could even turn Israel into a gas exporter and transform its economy. There are indications that there’s oil down there as well.

But the offshore finds may become a casus belli as Lebanon, Israel’s northern neighbor and longtime battleground, lays claim to the gas fields as well.

Lebanon’s As-Safir newspaper reported June 8 that the biggest field found off Israel, Leviathan, extends north into Lebanese waters and could well aggravate tensions between the countries.

Under the headline “Israel prepares to steal gas fields in Lebanon’s waters,” the leftist daily said if Israel tried to siphon gas from Lebanese territory, Beirut would be forced to defend its resources.

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One of Hezbollah’s top leaders, Hashem Safieddine, head of the Iranian-backed movement’s executive council, has declared it won’t allow Israel to “loot” Lebanese gas resources.

Israel’s military chiefs say Hezbollah currently possesses around 45,000 missiles and rockets, which could be fired at Israel’s emerging energy infrastructure centered on the port of Haifa.

The city was repeatedly hit by Hezbollah rockets during the 34-day war with Israel in July and August 2006.

These days, Hezbollah purportedly has long-range weapons that have greater accuracy and carry more destructive warheads than those used in 2006. These are capable of hitting just about anywhere in Israel.

In the event of renewed hostilities, and both sides are talking tough again, Israel’s energy installations would be prime targets.

Lebanon’s parliament speaker, Hezbollah ally Nabih Berri, has urged the Beirut government to move swiftly to start its own offshore exploration or risk Israel claiming whatever resources there are.

“Israel is racing to make the case a fait accompli and was quick to present itself as an oil emirate, ignoring the fact that, according to the maps, the deposits extend into Lebanese waters,” said Berri.

The speaker, who has submitted a parliamentary bill to launch exploration of Lebanon’s potential offshore reserves, declared: “Lebanon must take immediate action to defend its financial, political, economic and sovereign rights.”

Israeli officials insist that the gas fields lie within Israeli territorial waters.

However, the liberal Haaretz daily noted Tuesday, “Israel has yet to declare its exclusive economic zone, though this usually applies to what in the sea, such as fish, and not what lies under the continental shelf.”

It quoted Professor Moshe Hirsch of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, an expert in international law, as saying that problem could arise when the continental shelf is shared by more than one country.

But he maintained the gas lies squarely in Israel’s sector of the continental shelf and so there was no need top declare an exclusive economic zone.

The first strikes were made early this year at the Dalit field off Hadera, south of Haifa by a consortium headed by Noble Energy, a U.S. company with headquarters in Houston, which is working with three Israeli firms.

Tamar, 50 miles east of Haifa, was found in April. Last week Nobel raised its original estimate of the field’s size by 33 percent to 8.4 trillion cubic feet of gas.

But then came the discovery of Leviathan, double the size of Tamar at an estimated 16 trillion cubic feet of gas, further off the coast.

Nobel said that total offshore reserves could top 30 trillion cubic feet, double Britain’s giant gas fields in the North Sea, with a conservative value of some $300 billion. Nobel is moving a drilling platform from the Gulf of Mexico to step up exploration.

Gas production is to begin in 2012. Israel is planning to build a liquefied natural gas plant near Haifa but it probably won’t go online until 2015.

The gas finds, particularly Leviathan, which may turn out to be even bigger, are “nothing short of a geopolitical gamechanger,” Gal Luft, executive director of the U.S.-based Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, wrote in Haaretz Sunday.

“Altogether the basin the eastern Mediterranean … could contain an amount of gas equivalent to one-fifth of U.S. natural gas reserves.”


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1

 Jun 16, 2010 at 09:59 PM HaNavon Says:

It says in Yechezkel 38-39 that when all of the nations come against us as one army, it will be because they want our wealth...
I've often wondered about this, because there are many countries in the middle east with much more wealth than Israel, but now I know.

2

 Jun 16, 2010 at 10:21 PM Anonymous Says:

There is a Very small American listed Company that has Oil and I think Gas next to Tamar Interests in Israel, I think its called Avenue Group Inc could get interesting

3

 Jun 16, 2010 at 10:29 PM Anonymous Says:

Israel , beware . The US may go after your gas supply .

4

 Jun 16, 2010 at 10:38 PM Anonymous Says:

Tamar is 50 miles east of Haifa in the Mediterranean?! I think the UPI reporter needs a new compass.

5

 Jun 16, 2010 at 10:40 PM shmuel Says:

It is a b'ferush posuk, "lo sechsar kol ba". Eretz Yisroel has everything

6

 Jun 16, 2010 at 10:50 PM Anonymous Says:

Sounds like alot of hot air to me!!

7

 Jun 16, 2010 at 10:58 PM Anonymous Says:

I would not start using these reserves at all. 2 decades worth of natural gas is nothing. Save it for extreme national emergencies, like U.S. oil reserves.

8

 Jun 16, 2010 at 11:09 PM Anonymous Says:

What will all those cynics do now that they can no longer tell the same worn out (and now incorrect) joke that, "the Ebeshter led moshe rabenu for 40 years around the Sinai desert only to end up in the one piece of real estate in all of the middle east with no oil or gas"

9

 Jun 16, 2010 at 11:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
HaNavon Says:

It says in Yechezkel 38-39 that when all of the nations come against us as one army, it will be because they want our wealth...
I've often wondered about this, because there are many countries in the middle east with much more wealth than Israel, but now I know.

What wealth? We are broke and don't even have enough money to provide a minimal stipend to the yingermen in kollels who sit all day and night and learn torah l'shmah rather than taking the easy path and going to the army and then earning a parnassah.

10

 Jun 16, 2010 at 11:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
HaNavon Says:

It says in Yechezkel 38-39 that when all of the nations come against us as one army, it will be because they want our wealth...
I've often wondered about this, because there are many countries in the middle east with much more wealth than Israel, but now I know.

And they can still find more stuff!

11

 Jun 17, 2010 at 01:39 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

There is a Very small American listed Company that has Oil and I think Gas next to Tamar Interests in Israel, I think its called Avenue Group Inc could get interesting

Beware. Avenue Group is basically keren hatzvi.

12

 Jun 17, 2010 at 06:02 AM Anonymous Says:

I seem to recall a machlokes in the gemora (maseches gittin) about the territory of e'y including all the islands in the med sea, or just the sea itself. Either way the bnei yishmuel will try to steal it (v'yado bakol)

13

 Jun 17, 2010 at 06:50 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

What wealth? We are broke and don't even have enough money to provide a minimal stipend to the yingermen in kollels who sit all day and night and learn torah l'shmah rather than taking the easy path and going to the army and then earning a parnassah.

Do you really think army service and earning a parnassah is easier than learning in kollel? Don't be ridiculous. Even government workers don't take as many coffee and smoke breaks as the kollel guys.
Maybe if a few more of them went out to work instead of feeling pressured to learn all the time the real scholars would have plenty of income!

14

 Jun 17, 2010 at 08:11 AM Shmuela Says:

The last time Israel went to war - to defend itself against Lebanon, it sent Lebanon back 30 years in infrastructure
Start pumping gas my friends the arabs aren't gona do nothing about it

15

 Jun 17, 2010 at 09:44 AM Avi Says:

It doesn't seem to me that anyone is disagreeing that some of the area is in Israeli territory. Israel should offer some percentage of the profits and/or gas to Lebanon and be done with it. Not even the EU could reasonably argue that Israel cannot develop the resources.

16

 Jun 17, 2010 at 10:17 AM Aryeh Says:

Reply to #1  
HaNavon Says:

It says in Yechezkel 38-39 that when all of the nations come against us as one army, it will be because they want our wealth...
I've often wondered about this, because there are many countries in the middle east with much more wealth than Israel, but now I know.

A bit premature for that, no?

17

 Jun 17, 2010 at 10:56 AM Anonymous Says:

Anybody realized the name 'Hashem'? I would think it's a little gutsy to give this name to your child, no?

18

 Jun 20, 2010 at 07:47 AM Anonymous Says:

Typical. Just like the oil in the Arab countries was discovered and pumped and refined by other countries (eg, US , UK), yet they own and profit from it, now this gas is discovered by Israel, and along comes Lebanon to take ownership of it. Everyone else does the hard work, and there they are ready to take full possession. They contribute nothing to society, but have a goyishe mazel.

19

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