Plan Approved for Offshore Gas Facility; Leviathan Gas Will Be Treated at Sea

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A drilling rig in the Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean. Credit: Albatross

The National Planning and Building Council has approved plans for Israel’s offshore natural gas to reach land and a nationwide pipeline network after the partners in the Tamar and Leviathan fields agreed to process the gas at sea.

The partners, led by Houston-based Noble Energy, said they would make use of a floating production, storage and offloading unit located on the wells, some 100 kilometers offshore Israel in the Mediterranean Sea. From there the gas will travel to a depressurizing station located on a platform some 7.5 to 10 kilometers offshore.

The gas will then be piped undersea to a receiving station on Dor Beach, south of Haifa, where a relatively small and simple facility will transfer it the on-land pipeline network.

“We are talking about a plan of the utmost importance to the economy, which will strengthen our economic and energy security, will improve the environment and enable us to make the transition to using natural gas our chief source of energy,” said Interior Ministry Director General Shuki Amrani, who chairs the planning council.

The Leviathan field, Israel’s biggest by far, is 130 kilometers west of Haifa in deep Mediterranean waters. It has yet to begin production. The Tamar field began producing gas last year and is located 80 kilometers west of Haifa.

Because most of the gas processing will be offshore, environmental and other groups dropped their opposition and the plan was approved by the council by a vote of 22 to one.

However, a year ago the planning council approved two other gas facilities, one about 16 kilometers inland adjacent to the Hagit power station and another in the Hefer Valley.

The approval ended a two-year dispute over where to locate the gas facilities, but Rani Idan, chairman of the Emek Hefer Regional Council, said he planned to put up a fight over the receiving station planned for his jurisdiction.

“The planning council finally understood what we had been insisting on for the past two years, namely that there was no need for a land-based facility,” he said Tuesday. “We still insist that there’s no need for a land-based station in the Hefer Valley and we will continue to fight it.”

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