AnGas flow starting on Sabbath ‘mistake’
Israel’s President Peres says it is a mistake to start gas pumping from Tamar on the Sabbath day.Israel began pumping gas March 30 from its offshore Tamar reservoir but President Shimon Peres criticized the move to turn on the pumps on a Saturday, which coincides with the Sabbath.
“I believe it wasn’t necessary. As simple as that. I don’t know why they did it, it was a mistake,” said Peres. The religiously conservative media have also slammed the timing, arguing that the Sabbath had been “desecrated” by the move.
Meanwhile, Israel, once energy poor, is expected to become a gas exporter by the end of the decade, with the Tamar field holding enough reserves to meet the country’s gas needs for decades.
The gas discovery in 2009 led to an exploration frenzy in the Levant Basin - shared between Israel, Greek Cyprus and Lebanon - and the uncovering of a second bigger find, Leviathan, which prompted Israel to set up a natural gas wealth fund.
“This is a very important day for the Israeli economy. We are taking an important step toward energy independence,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement after the announcement that the platform off the Israeli coast in the Mediterranean Sea started pumping natural gas to the port of Ashdod.
The reservoir will help cut in half the cost of electricity, said Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva, the controlling shareholder in the Delek Group, one of the partners in Tamar.
According to energy experts, the Tamar field will provide Israel with all its natural gas needs for the next 40 years. Israel reportedly plans to export some of the natural gas after 2020.
Tamar has already signed a number of large deals, including one to supply as much as $23 billion of natural gas to Israel Electric and $4 billion worth to units of conglomerate Israel Corp.