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    Israel to stop offering onshore oil exploration permits

Summary

The new energy minister views natural gas only as an "intermediate solution until we can rely on renewable energies."

by: Joseph Murphy

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Israel to stop offering onshore oil exploration permits

Israel will no longer issue permits for onshore oil exploration, its recently-appointed energy minister Karine Elharrar said at a conference on August 31, the Times of Israel reported.

"Starting today, no more licences will be issued for oil exploration on land in the state of Israel," Elharrar, who was appointed as minister in June, said. "Oil is a highly polluting fuel that has no place in a country that is doing everything to reduce the use of coal."

The Israeli energy industry is undergoing a renaissance following the discovery of several large natural gas fields off its coast. But in contrast to the stance of her predecessor Yuval Steinitz, who championed offshore gas development, Elharrar said gas was only an "intermediate solution until we can rely on renewable energies."

The former Israeli government called time on the issue of permits for oil shale in early 2020, but the new ban covers all onshore crude oil. The latest announcement comes after the government said on July 25 it would target a 85% reduction in the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 from the level in 2015.

Israel's largest offshore gas field is Leviathan, which has been producing gas since the start of year. It exports some supplies to Egypt and Jordan. The Chevron-led consortium developing Leviathan recently decided to bring forward plans to drill a fifth well at the field in response to strong gas demand this year.