Israel’s Energy Ministry denies Leviathan explosion, says electrical fault corrected

“Residents of the Carmel Coast region were awakened by a powerful explosion which shook their homes,” said Homeland Guards.

By World Israel News Staff 

A boom was heard by Israeli residents from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea and a fireball was seen from the offshore Leviathan gas field platform during the early hours of Tuesday morning, but Israel’s Energy Ministry and Leviathan operator Noble Energy deny that there was an explosion and say that the gas flow resumed later in the morning after an electrical malfunction was corrected.

“Overnight, there was a power outage at the platform and a fault that required the natural gas to be emptied from the platform,” said the ministry in a statement.

What looked like a fireball, it said, was the burning off of gas as part of an emptying process for safety purposes that allowed for power to be restored.

The Environmental Protection Ministry said that pollutant levels did not exceed that which is permitted by safety regulations during any stage of the incident.

“Just before 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, residents of the Carmel Coast region [in northern Israel] were awakened by a powerful explosion which shook their homes,” said Homeland Guards, an Israeli environmental protection organization.

“This is the eighth malfunction, 40 days since the beginning of operations at the platform,” the organization claimed in a post on Facebook, which included a photo of the fireball in the distance.

The interruption to supply lasted between 3:25 and 7:45 a.m., reported Globes.

“Noble Energy’s standards and dubious track record are cause for concern,” argued Homeland Guards.

The Energy Ministry said in its statement that Noble Energy would be questioned further about the incident and that a report would be submitted to the public, and the Environmental Protection Ministry, in its announcement, pledged to “provide updates if there is any data indicating deviations at the monitoring stations.”

However, Homeland Guards counters that despite promises of transparency regarding previous malfunctions, “we have not seen one report.”

Last-minute challenges by residents and environmental groups in December put at risk Noble Energy’s pledge to launch Leviathan’s operations by the end of 2019. The Environmental Protection Ministry also briefly stopped the preparatory process.

However, on January 1, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz announced: “Israel, for the first time in its history, is an exporter of energy… At this moment, Israel is becoming a gas exporter to Jordan.”

Two weeks later, Israel began its first day of exporting natural gas to its other peace partner, Egypt.

Opponents of the Leviathan project had taken their case unsuccessfully to the Israeli Supreme Court to at least move the operation farther out to sea. The production platform was constructed 10 kilometers (six miles) off of the Israeli shoreline.

Aside from the export deals, Noble Energy has also touted delivery to the Israeli domestic market, which would cut costs for the Israeli consumer, it says.