Historic: Israel becomes energy exporter, will bring in billions of dollars

Israel’s Leviathan began operations, sending gas to Jordan on Wednesday.

By World Israel News Staff

“Israel, for the first time in its history, is an exporter of energy,” said Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz on Wednesday morning. “It is happening right now in these minutes, and I, for the first time, here announce that at this moment Israel is becoming a gas exporter to Jordan.”

“Another week – 10 days – to Egypt,” he said.  (Ynet reports that it is worth noting that gas began flowing to Jordan from the offshore Tamar gas field already two years ago.)

“Today is a holiday,” Steinitz said. “We’re talking about a macro-economic and geopolitical event that is difficult to exaggerate in its significance.”

Steinitz made his remarks after a successful flushing test of the Leviathan gas rig on Tuesday, which was not without its hitches as a government application for monitoring pollution levels crashed, preventing real-time pollution levels from being relayed.

The Leviathan gas rig, which is located closer to shore than would be typical due to security concerns, has been the target of criticism by Israeli citizens living nearby. Some even evacuated their homes, not trusting the government’s assurances that pollution levels were safe.

“We overcame populist opposition to the gas deal and the [offshore] gas rig. Thanks to the development of Leviathan the citizens of Israel will gain income of tens of billions of dollars over the next 25 years, cheaper electricity bills, closing of the coal stations in Hadera and in Ashkelon and strengthening of the peace link by means of the export of excess gas to Egypt and Jordan, and in a few years also to Europe,” Steinitz said.

In referencing Europe, Steinitz referred to a plan by Israel, together with Cyprus and Greece, to build a natural gas pipeline to Italy. The agreement will be signed in Athens on Jan. 2 between the leaders of the three countries. It is estimated that the pipeline will supply 10 percent of Europe’s energy needs.

George Hatfield, VP of Major Projects for Noble Energy, the Texas-based first in charge of developing the offshore Leviathan field, told Israel Hayom, “Thanks to the development of Leviathan, Israel has become an energy superpower. We were the only company that was prepared to invest in searches in the area.”

“For the first time since its establishment, Israel is now an energy powerhouse, able to supply all its energy needs and gaining energy independence,” echoed Delek Drilling CEO Yossi Abu, a partner in the field, JNS reports.