Israel renews gas exploration, expects export deal to Europe


An Israeli gas platform is seen in the Mediterranean Sea August 1, 2014. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

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JERUSALEM, May 30 (Reuters) – Israel is renewing exploration for offshore natural gas and hopes to reach a deal soon to export gas to Europe, Israel’s energy minister said on Monday.

Energy Minister Karine Elharrar had said exploration for new gas fields would be put on hold to focus on meeting renewable energy targets, but due to the war in Ukraine, Europe is now looking a rapid replacement of supplies from Russia.

“Alongside Europe’s real and sincere concern, there is a real opportunity for Israel to export natural gas to Europe,” Elharrar told a news conference.

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For this reason, she said she instructed the ministry to prepare a new round of tenders for gas exploration off Israel’s Mediterranean coast, which is expected to begin in the third quarter.

“We have established a tripartite working group with Israel, Europe and Egypt. We will sign, I hope in the near future, a memorandum of understanding that will create the framework agreement for export,” she said.

The idea for now is for the gas to be sent to Egypt via an extensive pipeline network to be liquefied and then shipped to Europe. Other options, such as the long-discussed Eastmed pipeline directly linking Israeli gas fields to Europe, are also on the table, Elharrar said.

Officials said it would take at least two years before significant amounts of Israeli gas could reach Europe.

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Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Steven Scheer and David Evans

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