New Gas Fields Could Make Israel Big Player

June 29, 2011

Editor's Note: Over the last couple of years, over 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas has been found off of Israel's coastline in the Mediterranean Sea. The reserves are enough to last the country 75-100 years based up on the nation's current level of consumption. These finds represent a huge opportunity for Israel as the discoveries are transforming the nation into a net exporter of energy. Until recently, technology has driven the tiny country's economy. Now, however, Israel's natural gas reserves will provide a new revenue stream which will turn eyes from two directions. From Europe and the West who will likely become importing partners. And from the Middle East, who will not be excited about new competition in the energy sector from the Jewish state. We'll keep our eyes on this one… 

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NEWSMAX.COM  Foreign policy specialist David Wurmser tells Newsmax that huge natural gas fields recently discovered off the coast of Israel will make the Jewish state a net energy exporter and have “dramatic effects” on the Israeli economy.

But the gas finds could touch off new disputes with Lebanon — and in particular, Iran’s terrorist client there, Hezbollah — over exploitation of the gas fields.

Wurmser was a Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and a special assistant to John Bolton at the State Department. He is also a former research fellow on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute.

In an exclusive Newsmax interview, Wurmser was asked about the significance of the natural gas fields found in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel.

“A series of private operators discovered two gas fields in the last two years off the coast of Israel that are world class production zones,” he responds.

“The first was discovered in early 2009, called the Tamar field. The second was discovered at the end of 2010, called the Leviathan field.

“Together, they represent about 24.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. That’s about 750 billion cubic meters. Europe consumes about 400 billion cubic meters a year. So it’s equivalent to about one and a half years consumption of gas by Europe. These are very significant finds. And the basin in which they’re found shows promise of a lot more out there.”

A smaller gas field called Dalit also was found near Tamar. 

“Israel consumes only a small part of what is out there already discovered,” Wurmser says.

“It would be about 75 years to 100 years of Israeli consumption. This is obviously far beyond what Israel would need to keep, so Israel would become for the first time in its existence a net exporter of energy resources, which will strategically begin to transform the way the nation looks at itself and develops relations with countries around it.” 

Regarding possible disputes the gas finds could produce with Israel’s neighbors, Wurmser tells Newsmax the fields are “pretty clearly within Israeli waters. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be some conflict or dispute that, say, Hezbollah in Lebanon presents.

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