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Oil production at Israel's Tamar field begins

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 31st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

What is seen as the first step towards Israel becoming an energy-exporting country has begun. Natural gas from the Tamar field off Israel's Mediterranean shores has started production, and this development could lead to Israel becoming an oil exporting nation, as well as more fuel independent.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The discovery of oil in 2009 led to much excitement and exploration in the Levant Basin. Shared between Israel, Cyprus and Lebanon, the surveying of the Levant Basin led to the uncovering of a second bigger find, Leviathan. This in turn led Israel to set up a natural gas wealth fund. Tamar alone is expected to meet the country's natural gas needs for decades.

"Today [we begin] independence in Israeli natural gas. It is an enormous achievement for the Israeli economy and the start of a new era," Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva, the controlling shareholder in Delek Group declared. Tshuva is one of the partners in Tamar.

According to the Israeli water and energy ministry, the gas should lead to a reduction in production costs for state utility Israel Electric Corp., in addition to a decline in the price of electricity.

It's estimated that the new gas supplies would save Israel's economy, which relies heavily on oil imports by $3.6 billion per year. This was contained in the statement from the production partners, who said they had invested $3 billion in developing Tamar. The announcement bodes well for domestic oil production as well, as Texas-based Noble Energy holds 36 percent of Tamar.

Noble's chairman and CEO Charles Davidson said bringing Tamar to production in four years was a "transformational achievement," and that the field's partners would now work to invest in increasing piping capacity.

"Building on this success, we will work with our partners and the government to sanction the next phase of development at Tamar and the domestic phase of Leviathan," Davidson said.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the achievement in a statement issued by his office.

"We are taking an important step towards independence in the energy sector. In the past decade we have promoted Israel's gas sector and this will enhance Israel's economy and benefit all the country's citizens," he said.

The field is located  off Israel's northern coast and has an estimated 10 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Development of Tamar and Leviathan will make Israel less dependent on energy imports, but the country has said it will also allow a significant amount of its natural gas to be exported.

Tamar has already signed a number of large deals, including one to supply as much as $23 billion of natural gas to Israel Electric Corp. and $4 billion worth to units of conglomerate Israel Corp.

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