The Tamar deepwater natural gas drilling platform off the coast of Ashdod is helping to usher in a new era for Israel. The Tamar field, and a larger one to the west, are soon going to make Israel a major natural gas exporter, the FT reports today, potentially bringing in a $60 billion over the next two decades.A court decision late last month unblocked the path to exporting much of the gas from these two fields.
Delek and Noble [two of the companies involved with the projects] are looking at a range of export options that could see total investments by the companies and their partners of $5bn to $15bn in developing Leviathan and possible pipelines or liquefied natural gas facilities needed to export its output.
The two companies say the export options they are considering include piping gas to Turkey, Greece, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, or even Egypt, which is suffering gas shortages after the political unrest of the past two years. Delek and Noble are also deliberating over big-ticket investments in LNG, which would open up markets as far away as Asia.
Not only does this have major geopolitical consequences for the Middle East, it will also reduce Israel’s dependence on the US and limit US ability to pressure Jerusalem on the peace process, something that the Israeli right has already no doubt considered. Already that peace process is looking rocky. Israel and Palestinian negotiators “clashed bitterly” during talks today, the NYT reports. So far, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Obama administration’s second effort to ameliorate that relationship will turn out any better than the first.