01 sep Gas from heaven for Israel
Israel has joined the big league of gas producing countries thanks to the discovery of the Tamara (2009) and Leviathan (2010) off shore fields. The latter is the largest deepwater gas reservoir found anywhere in the world over the past decade, according to today’s Financial Times. The two fields will cover Israel’s domestic demand for at least 25 years and will leave room for export as well. The country will earn at least $ 140. billion in the next thirty years, but, more important, it will at last be less dependent on other energy producing countries.
In exchange for technology, weapons, expertise in the field of security and chemical industry, Israel has received oil and gas guarantees from such exotic countries as Equatorial Guinea and Surinam, as it is forced to avoid the nearby producers in the Middle East who are considered to be their enemies. On the way, Israel built intimate relations with all sorts of governments that will now wonder whether the friendship will last. If there is no more direct need for energy sources, why would Israel bother to be present with its knowledge? Of course, when enough money is involved, business will go on as usual. But the tone and atmosphere are due to change and make Israel more self sufficient and, by that, more confident. It might even mean a positive influence on the peace process in the region. Why wouldn’t Israel sell parts of its gas to the neighbouring Palestinian territories, that are in great need of energy? Or to the kingdom of Jordan? Creating better economic conditions through affordable gas will enhance collaboration and trade.
Peace with gas, a new approach for Tel Aviv. There is one party, though, that will try to stop Israel’s ambition: Hezbollah, the Shia group that is one of Israel’s most committed enemies in Lebanon. Hezbollah is already criticizing Israel for ‘stealing Lebanese gas’ in the Mediterranean, where there has been a disputed line between the terrotorial waters for a long time.
Who has said that oil and gas only bring happiness? More often than not the new wealth is as much a gift as a curse. Let’s see if Israel will be able to handle the dilemma’s and become happy, not in the least, by sharing.