Due to its head start in gas production, Israel is unlikely to be harmed by the discovery of natural gas in Egyptian territorial waters. Egypt is not planning to prevent private companies from buying from Israel.
Gas industry experts say that the discovery of natural gas in Egyptian territorial waters is not likely to cause significant damage to Israel’s gas exports. Egypt’s petroleum minister indicated that the country’s private sector will not be restricted from purchasing Israeli gas, although he did not elaborate on the government’s plans.
“Any negotiations between private companies in Egypt and in the eastern Mediterranean, and by this I mean Israel and Cyprus, will not stop,” Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail told Reuters. “These negotiations and initial agreements are ongoing.”
The current Israeli government has come under criticism for failing to predict the Egyptian gas discovery. However, industry experts say that Israel is protected by its lead over Egypt in the natural gas market. It would take an estimated eight years for Egypt to begin producing natural gas from the Zohr field.
“I don’t see this as directly harmful to Leviathan’s prospects for development,” said Brenda Shaffer, an energy specialist at Georgetown University and the University of Haifa told Reuters. “The timing is not bad for Israeli companies. It’s better now than after two years of negotiations (with potential buyers of Israeli gas).”
“I am not concerned by these discoveries,” Prof. Idit Avrahami of the University of Ariel’s engineering department told Arutz Sheva. “Natural gas is plentiful all over the world, and a depth map study conducted 10 years ago shows that there are gas deposits throughout the Mediterranean. It’s just a matter of time until they can be drilled.”
Avrahami noted that Egypt has high gas requirements and compared the situation to water, where Israel was able to monetize its experience by assisting other countries.
By: Sara Abramowicz, United With Israel