(JNS.org) In advance of this year’s Israel Independence Day (April 16), Israeli
officials are celebrating news that they hope will mean long-term energy
independence for the Jewish state.
The Tamar offshore gas field has started production after four years of exploration and drilling by Israel, Israel Hayom reported.
Israel’s Energy and Water Resources Ministry confirmed on Saturday that natural gas “is now moving from the Tamar reservoir to a new naval production rig across from Ashdod.” Israel has invested $3.5 billion in the Tamar project in order to reduce its dependency on gas imports.
“This is Israel’s energy independence day,” Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom said. “It is truly a historic event—Israel has received energy freedom.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that Saturday was “an important day for Israel’s economy” due to the news surrounding the Tamar field. The field, which was discovered in 2009 about 130 kilometers (81 miles) west of Haifa, reportedly has gas reserves of up to 238 billion cubic meters (8.4 trillion cubic feet). U.S.-based Noble Energy as well as Israeli firms—Delek, Isramco and Dor Alon—own the field.
“This is a very proud day for all of us. Our vision has become a reality,” Delek owner Yitzhak Tshuva told Agence France-Presse. “This is a tremendous achievement for the Israeli energy market and the beginning of a new era.”
The Tamar field’s progress is also welcome news for Israel because Egypt canceled its gas supply agreement with the Jewish state in April 2012, citing that the agreement was undermining Egyptian interests. In August 2011, terrorists bombed the gas pipeline connecting Israel and Egypt.