Israeli officials expressed concern that the discovery of an extensive gas field off the coast of Egypt could upend Israeli development of its energy resources.
The Italian energy company Eni SpA on Sunday announced the discovery of the largest gas field in the Mediterranean, threatening a deal between the Israeli government and developers that was based on expectations of substantial gas exports to Egypt. That deal already was bogged down in disagreements about regulation, pricing and profit-sharing that have delayed the start of production. “The discovery of the Egyptian gas field is a painful reminder that while Israel has been asleep at the wheel and delaying final approval of the gas deal and additional exploration, the world is changing before our very eyes with implications for export possibilities,” Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said after Sunday’s announcement.
Israel discovered large natural-gas resources off its shores for the first time in recent years, raising hopes the country could reduce its dependence on foreign energy. The Leviathan field, found in 2010, had been considered the largest in the Mediterranean until the discovery in Egypt. Israel found a second, smaller gas field, Tamar, in 2009. Though Leviathan is still untapped, plans to export the gas to Egypt have, until now, figured as a key element in the Israeli plans to develop the field. Read more