Israeli Experts Disagree On Leviathan Developments


While an expert said the Leviathan will not be developed in the foreseeable future, a researcher underlined on Wednesday that the main hurdle for gas developments offshore Israel is the lack of an ad-hoc institution addressing all the aspects related to the topic.

‘The public debate on the proposed framework has touched on important parts but not all of many issues, and also does not provide an answer to the following questions: what institution in the State of Israel is supposed to integrate all the relevant considerations, and by what process are decisions supposed to be made. These questions, too, underscore the need for a comprehensive framework’ Oded Eran, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, wrote in a note translated into English on Wednesday

According to Eran, the delays decrease the likelihood of developments. Mentioning the Qatari LNG arrival at Jordan’s Aqaba Port on May 25 and the agreement between Jordan and Shell, the researcher said that there are countries and players opposing developments in Israel.

‘Shell has reached an agreement in principle to supply natural gas to Jordan. Supplying Jordan with gas this way raises its price, and the Jordanian government prefers to realize the opportunity of importing gas from Israel (with symbolic imports of Palestinian gas from the field off the Gaza coast, which is very far from production with economic feasibility). Nonetheless, the existence of an alternative from Qatar, albeit more expensive, is liable to strengthen the argument of those, especially in the Jordanian parliament, opposed to any move that might mean dependence on Israel and an opened door to normalized relations. The willingness of Qatar or any external source to subsidize the gap in the price might delay the deal with Israel, or thwart it altogether’ Eran wrote.

But a caveat. Eran’s post assumes that the Leviathan gas can start flowing by the end of July 2019. That sounds unlikely. In his proposal, Eran said that the export amount should be increased from 20 to 27-28 BCM.

‘This would allow maximal political use of an export total of some 2 BCM a year going to the PA, 3 BCM to Jordan, and up to 10 BCM to the liquefaction facility (located west of Port Said in Damietta) belonging to Spain’s Union Fenosa and Italy’s ENI, leaving over 10 BCM for a possible deal with Turkey.’

Cooperation remains possible, but trade will not happen from one day to another.