Israel ordered the offshore Tamar gas field cease operations on Tuesday “in order to exercise caution” amid rocket fire from the Gaza Strip following a wave of unrest in the region.
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement that halting the field's activity is within his authority, and that he did so after consulting with defense officials and energy experts. "At the same time, we will take steps in order to guarantee the continued supply of gas to power stations and factories throughout Israel, and no disturbances in Israel's electricity supply are expected," his office added.
Steinitz denied recent reports of an attempted attack against the gas field, also refuted by defense officials, and stressed “there is no connection between the minister's decision and the current reports."
The Tamar gas field lies off of Israel's northern coast, and sells 34 percent of its supply to the state-owned Israel Electric Corporation. Another 12 percent of its supply are sold to a private power station in Israel’s north.
U.S. energy giant Chevron, which operates Tamar, said in a statement: “In accordance with instructions received from the Ministry of Energy, we have shut-in and depressurised the Tamar Platform.”
A second gas field Chevon operates off Israel’s coast, Leviathan, continued to run normally and the company was "working with customers and the relevant regulatory bodies to ensure that natural gas supplies continue.”
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Tamar is further east than the Leviathan field, which is about twice its size.
Reuters contributed to this report.