Israel prepares fourth gas exploration round
Israel will hold a new licensing round for offshore gas acreage, to spur exploration for extra gas that can be delivered to Europe, the Jerusalem Post reported on May 30.
The energy minister Karin Elharrar confirmed the move at a press conference on May 30, following energy security talks with European and US counterparts, as well as those from fellow gas producer Egypt. She previously pledged to prioritise renewables, and had said a moratorium on licensing rounds would be enacted from the end of this year.
Israel has rapidly increased its renewable energy usage, mainly through solar thermal and photovoltaic plants. Renewables output doubled from June 2021 to December that year, and Israel has a trade deal with Jordan to import a further 600MW of solar energy.
However, policy experts had urged the government to promote further gas exploration. Estimates cited by the Jerusalem Post previously indicate new licences could help uncover 500bn m3 to 1 trillion m3 in gas resources over the next decade.
A moratorium would have killed the momentum for Israel's gas sector, which has seen a number of large-scale discoveries in recent decades. Reuters reported on May 16 that Israeli output could reach 40bn m3 annually within a few years, up from 20bn m3 at present, on the back of several new upstream projects.
The Chevron-operated Leviathan gas field last year flowed 10bn m3 of gas, much of which was exported to Egypt via Jordan. In the third quarter of this year, Energean will bring on stream its Karish gas field, home to an estimated 1.4bn ft3 of 2P natural gas.
Elharrar now says Israel cannot ignore the global need for more gas supplies. She said: "The global energy crisis provides an opportunity for the state of Israel to export natural gas, along with the honest and real concern for what is going on in Europe."
In response to the decision, Israel's natural gas association noted the world is "desperate" for more gas. The association said: "Israel stands out in these days as an island of energy stability and is reaping praise from the world's leading natural gas industries for developing reservoirs, regional export and maintaining stable prices."