Offshore drilling has suddenly made Israel natural gas-rich, and it seems the Mediterranean boom is only just beginning. Israel is already plumbing the Tamar field, home to some 11 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, and has plans for the nearby Leviathan field—appropriately named, as it is estimated to contain as much as 22 tcf. Now, as Haaretz reports, new estimates for a field near Israel’s southern maritime border suggest Israel may have another 3.1 tcf of gas to work with:
If the estimate is accurate, reserves for the Royee prospect, located about 150 kilometers (93 miles) offshore Israel and close to its maritime borders with Cyprus and Egypt, would be the third-largest discovered in Israeli waters and the fourth-largest in the Mediterranean Basin, said Israel Opportunity, a partner in the group.
Already, Israel’s gas supply is outstripping its demand, which has the country’s leaders thinking about exports. Israel signed a $15 billion deal with Jordan, though Palestinian unrest has since threatened that agreement. The NYT reports that the United States has encouraged Israel to find regional customers for its new gas:
The Obama administration has quietly pushed the [exports] strategy. As United States officials see it, the energy ties could further cement the fragile peace between Israel and its neighbors, and perhaps offer Europe another gas source to lessen its dependence on Russia.
Israel is also engaged in talks to export gas to Egypt, as Cairo’s energy demands may overcome public and political resistance within Egypt against such a deal. Israel’s gas supplies have bolstered its energy security in a real and very measurable way, but they also have the potential to strengthen ties within the region, as well.