Environmentalists Object to Gas By-product Storage in Haifa

Activists fear increased air pollution if proposed condensate facility is built.

Tomer Neuberg

The Energy and Water Resources Ministry is seeking to permit the storage of fuel by-products from natural gas production in a large storage facility due to be built in the Haifa Bay region. Environmentalists reject the plan as posing environmental hazards.

The National Planning and Building Council is currently hearing appeals regarding a plan for large fuel storage facilities in an area east of the Oil Refineries compound, to which two large fuel tank farms are to be moved from their current locations near Kiryat Tivon and Kiryat Haim.

The ministry wants permission to store condensate at the site. Condensate is a material produced during the processing of natural gas before it is supplied to consumers. It can be stored and then transferred to the Oil Refineries, which can manufacture various products from it. Environmentalists do not want condensate to be stored there for fear it would increase air pollution.

“At issue is a legitimate energy product that can be used by the Oil Refineries in Haifa and can also be a source of Israeli exports,” the ministry said in a letter to the council. “You cannot build a modern fuel farm in which some products cannot be used. The issue of emissions must be examined using the orderly and fixed rules under the Clean Air Law that relate to the farm and emissions from it. This is a demand that could cause significant harm to the fuel market and possibly to the natural gas market.”

Environmental epidemiologist Ella Nave and activist Hanna Kuperman, who submitted the appeal, note that huge quantities of condensate from the drilling at Leviathan and the other gas fields would be brought to the compound, and that its storage, transport and use by the Oil Refineries would significantly increase air pollution in the Haifa Bay area. They want all processing of the gas and its by-products to take place in offshore facilities, and not near populated areas that would be exposed to increased risk.