Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Steinitz: We'll bring large foreign cos to find gas - GLOBES

27 Jun, 2017 12:56
Nati Yefet

Minister of Energy: I'm convinced we'll succeed in bringing here at least three or four sizeable companies to take part in new gas tenders.

Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz today opened the third annual Energy and Economics conference at the conference center near Ben Gurion Airport. The conference is a joint initiative of the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources, the Manufacturers Association of Israel, the Private Power Producers from Natural Gas Forum, the Green Energy Association of Israel, and the Association of Oil and Gas Exploration Industries in Israel.

"We're taking steps to achieve the potential by searching for more gas in Israel's economic waters. Last week, I announced that we were extending the tender until November, and I saw that there were responses of malicious joy that I simply don't understand. Does anyone think they could have done a better job with the tender? We're in a struggle, and I'm convinced we'll also succeed in bringing here at least three or four sizeable companies to take part, and in order to make sure that happens, we extended the tenders, also at the direct request of a major international company, and indirectly from a another company."

"This was the most dramatic year in the history of the Israeli energy sector," Steinitz declared. "The most important thing, which affects everything else, is the greater than expected success of the gas plan. There has been progress in everything that the gas plan was designed to extract, set in motion, and. Finally, seven years after it was discovered, the Leviathan natural gas field, the biggest natural resource ever found in Israel, has moved into accelerated development.

"The gas platform is being built in Houston, Texas, and at the Leviathan gas field, one of the world's largest drilling ships is drilling the wells. The Karish and Tanin fields were sold ahead of schedule, and the monopoly has begun to break up. Today, it's no longer just Noble Energy and Tshuva selling gas; there's also Greek company Energean, which bought Karish and Tanin, and we're already seeing that the process of dissolving the monopoly has begun. A year ago, there was one group. Today there are two, and three in the future, and I hope more.

"The prices of the new contracts have begun falling, and we hear that power stations are now buying at a price between $4 and $5 per MMBtu, and competition has only begun. This year, for the first time, over 60% of the electricity will be produced from natural gas, instead of coal, crude oil, or diesel fuel. According to the amount of coal that we are consuming for the production of electricity, today we use half of what we burned two or three years ago. This is already having an enormous effect on air quality.

Outside the conference hall, there was a noisy demonstration with 20-30 participants representing the Zichron Yaakov Environmental Protection Forum, which opposes storing condensate near the Hagit power station, alleging that the condensate is a volatile carcinogen. Perhaps for this reason, Steinitz addressed the issue of the environment and public health at the end of his speech.

"The Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources has recently changed its basic values. In the past, the subject of public health was left to the Ministry of Health, and the environment to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. I have changed the ministry's basic values, which have been officially redefined – energy security while preserving public health. We are not ignoring or leaving public health to other ministries.

"I'm saying here unequivocally: of all the fuels in the world, the cleanest and most environmentally friendly is natural gas. Everywhere in the civilized world, for the past 20 years, there has been an effort to replace coal, crude oil, and diesel fuel with natural gas wherever possible. It is true that natural gas also needs infrastructure, platforms, pipelines, a system for treating and delivering the condensate, power stations, and turbines, but the biggest mistake we can inflict on ourselves is to forego or delay the process of switching from coal to gas in electricity production and the transition from oil and diesel to natural gas in industrial plants. There can be no greater mistake."

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - on June 27, 2017 - © Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017