Business in Brief

Gas from Tamar drilling site reaches customers

The natural gas from the Tamar drilling site off Israel’s coast began flowing on Saturday and by Sunday it was already being supplied to customers in Israel. A regular flow of gas is now being maintained through the network of pipelines to Ashdod, 170 kilometers away. Among the recipients of the first flow of gas were the Israel Electric Corporation, Paz Oil and Oil Refineries Ltd., which is also known by its Hebrew acronym, Bazan. The electric company had been forced to look for more expensive alternative fuels to generate electricity after natural gas supplies from Egypt were disrupted and then cut off altogether around the time of the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The supplies from Tamar are expected to be followed in the coming years by even larger production from the Leviathan field, the site of the largest recent discovery of its kind anywhere in the world. The lead partner in Tamar is U.S.-based Noble Energy. ‏(Itai Trilnick‏)

Security measures for Israeli flights to Turkey under review

The Shin Bet security service is reviewing security guidelines for Israeli airlines seeking to fly to Turkey. The review follows a request by Israel’s Arkia Airlines to resume flying to Antalya, a resort area on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. Interest among Israelis to take vacations in Turkey has jumped since last month’s improvement in relations between the two countries. The breakthrough came with Israel’s apology over the 2010 deaths of passengers in an Israeli naval commando raid on a Turkish flotilla ship that was attempting to break through Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israeli airlines stopped flying to Turkey after a drop in Israeli passenger traffic following the flotilla incident but there were also security issues that curtailed service. El Al Israel Airlines, for example, stopped service to Istanbul after Turkish authorities barred the presence of armed Israeli security guards at Istanbul airport. ‏(Zohar Blumenkrantz‏)

Office of Chief Scientist gets initial NIS 500m in 2013 funding

Late last month the Finance Ministry transferred an initial payment of NIS 500 million in 2013 funding for the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Economics and Trade Ministry. The funding will enable the office to resume making grants to high-tech companies. The Office of the Chief Scientist has sought in recent years to increase the funding that Finance Ministry provides it by linking the allocations to growth in the country’s gross domestic product. The Finance Ministry has refused, but is currently looking for creative ways to supplement allocations to the Office of the Chief Scientist, for example by converting it into an independent government agency thereby permitting it to raise its own capital. ‏(Ora Coren‏)  

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