Business in Brief

Ashdod, Haifa ports to be deepened, expanded for larger ships

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said yesterday the Haifa and Ashdod ports will be deepened and new docks added to accommodate larger cargo vessels. The move was announced at a conference of port users. It is seen as victory for the trade unions representing the ports' employees and their determination to combat competition. "We will not allow a situation where there are deep-water ports aside from those that already exist, without deepening the existing ones," Katz said. "We won't leave the existing ports behind." He said Israel needs to become a global transportation hub because it is the only politically stable country in the region. (Daniel Schmil )

Environmental arguments rejected, Yam 3 oil drilling set to start

Drilling in the Yam 3 prospect will begin in about a week, after the district planning and building committee rejected objections submitted by environmental organizations, its lead operator Shemen Oil & Gas Resources announced yesterday. Official approval is expected within a few days. Shemen said it had instructed the U.S. company Atwood Oceanics to begin moving its drilling platform to the site, which is 16 kilometers off the Mediterranean Sea coast at Ashdod. Geologists estimate that the Shemen/387 license could produce 227 million barrels of oil and three trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Drilling was originally scheduled to begin in early September but was delayed as a result of opposition from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and other groups. (Eran Azran )


Israel Corp. pays half of its $67m pledge to Better Place

The Israel Corporation said late Monday that it had transferred $33 million out of the $67 million it has pledged to its financially troubled Better Place unit as part of the company's current financing round. In the first round Better Place received $229 million from Idan Ofer's holding company. The balance will presumably be remitted within weeks. Better Place, which is developing a network of electric-vehicle refueling stations, is badly in need of the cash, as its spending has exceeded forecasts while its revenues have fallen way under its targets. For the first half of 2012 Better Place reported net loss of $132 million, a cash burn of $104 million and $131 million cash in hand. (TheMarker Staff )