Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scrapped earlier plans to bring his governments plan for the regulation of the country’s offshore natural gas industry to the Knesset on Wednesday, the government is said to still be considering presenting the plan so that, if necessary, parliament can be reconvened during its upcoming recess on 48 hours’ notice.
The blueprint leaves the development of the two major offshore gas sites - Tamar, which is currently producing gas, and the much larger Leviathan site, which is not online - in the control in the near term of a corporate consortium led by the Delek Group and Houston-based Noble Energy, which has engendered objections to it. The regulatory context was scrambled further this week by the announcement by Italy’s Eni energy firm that based on initial findings, a gas field exists off the coast of Egypt that is considerably larger even than Leviathan.
The size of Eni’s discovery is yet to be confirmed, and it may be around eight years before it will be ready for exports, analysts note. That leaves Israel comparatively further advanced, with the Tamar field already on-stream and Leviathan, despite the domestic political problems it has faced, set to be so in 2019.
Officials at the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday debated the pros and cons of submitting the plan to the Knesset at this time. Netanyahu is expected to increase pressure on Dery to invoke his authority, but as of last week, the Economy Minister was refusing to do so even if the Knesset approves the current plan.
With reporting by Reuters.