US energy secretary Rick Perry signs cooperation deal in Israel

“The shared energy and technology goals of our countries remain a priority for the United States,” Rick Perry tweeted.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Together with his Israeli counterpart, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry officially launched a new center Monday that will help fund the joint research of Israeli and American companies and academic institutions in various energy fields to the tune of $16 million.

The U.S.-Israel Center of Excellence in Energy, Engineering and Water Technology was initially announced in April, with the aim of developing innovative technologies in the areas of fossil fuels, energy storage, cybersecurity for energy infrastructure, and the “energy-water nexus.”

Perry took the opportunity of his first official visit to Israel and meeting with Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz to formally publicize the center’s opening and put a call out for proposals from Israeli and American entities to compete for the funding that is to lead to practical commercial applications.

The Energy Center, as it is being called, will be run through the energy program of BIRD – the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation. BIRD has been providing funding for cooperative ventures between Israeli and American companies and institutions in many technology sectors, as well as agriculture, communications, and life sciences, for over 40 years.

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In a tweet following the announcement, Perry said, “The shared energy and technology goals of our countries remain a priority for the United States. The continued success of the BIRD Energy program and launch of the U.S.-Israel Center of Excellence in Energy, Engineering, and Water Technology will bring our research enterprises even closer together.”

The two energy czars also signed a cooperation agreement to enhance cybersecurity collaboration in the energy field and improve investment and open markets for Eastern Mediterranean gas.

The recent massive natural gas findings off the coasts of Israel, Egypt and Cyprus led to the establishment in January of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) by these countries, joined by Greece, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Its purpose is to develop a regional market for this energy source by building pipelines and making use of local LNG (liquid natural gas) export infrastructure.

Perry continued his tour by visiting energy facilities in Ashdod Tuesday, including the American Noble gas exploration company, which is a partner with Israeli Yitzchak Tshuva in the huge Leviathan gas field.

He called the Noble business “a great example of U.S. technology, a U.S. company working in Israel. It’s my hope that this is just the first chapter of a very long story of further American investment in Israel’s energy sector.”

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Perry will continue on to Cairo with Steinitz on Tuesday to attend the second meeting of the EMGF.