Israel to halt natural gas search, focus on renewable energy

Israel Energy Minister Karin Elharrar announced that the search for offshore natural gas fields will be halted at least until the end of 2022.

Israel will halt its natural gas search and production in 2022 to make room for renewable energy resource use, Energy Minister Karin Elharrar announced recently. 

Israel has managed to double its renewable energy input since June, Elharrar said.

“In the coming year we will focus on the future, on green energy, on energy optimization and on renewable energy, and while we do so we will put aside the development of natural gas, which, as is known, is short term solution,” she said.

A natural gas policy paper that was circulated in June for public review recommended that the government act to promote the search for another gas field for the next ten years that will supply between 500-1000 billion cubic meters (BCM). However, Elharrar made it clear that the Energy Ministry will not be adopting the policy paper and not will be launching a fourth tender for permits to search for natural gas.

The Energy Ministry will also open a new Renewable Energy branch, she said.

Environmentalists praised the decision but called on Elharrar to completely stop the search for natural gas, and not just halt it.

Israel In April, reportedly was preparing to launch the fourth offshore bidding round for exploration licenses in the coming months.

However now, the country is set to halt offshore natural gas exploration in the Mediterranean Sea, pledging instead that next year will be ‘the year of renewable energy’.

Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said that ‘gas can wait. She ‘will not accept the recommendations of the former ministry director-general, Ehud Adiri, to continue exploring for natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea.’

The first and second Israeli offshore bid rounds closed in November 2017 and July 2019, respectively. After the flow of first gas from the Leviathan fields in late 2019, the third bid round was announced on June 23 last year, while successful bids are yet to be announced, according to the country’s ministry of energy.