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Israel to emerge as gas exporter in Eastern Mediterranean region by mid-2020s
Israel has gone through an energy production revolution following discoveries of natural gas resources such as the Tamar and Leviathan fields over the past decade. Against this backdrop, the country’s gas production will significantly exceed demand and it will emerge as a gas exporter in the Eastern Mediterranean region by mid-2020s, according to GlobalData.
The company’s latest report reveals that gas demand in Israel is forecast to increase significantly to more than 800bn cf in 2029, mainly due to government commitments to the COP 21 Paris Agreement environmental targets and plans to reduce the dependence on coal over the next decade.
Currently, Israel’s remaining recoverable gas reserves are estimated to be around 26.2tn cf, approximately 62 times greater than the country’s anticipated gas consumption in 2019.
Jonathan Markham, Senior Analyst Oil and Gas – EMEA & APAC, comments: ‘For the first time in late 2019, Israel’s gas production is forecast to balance with its total gas consumption owing mainly to Tamar, which started production in 2013 supplying around 950mn cf/d and the ramp up of Leviathan Phase 1A, which will supply around 200mn cf/d to the domestic market.’
Markham continues: ‘When the existing discoveries of Leviathan and Karish start producing, gas production in Israel will significantly exceed demand and it will be necessary to export surplus gas. However, Israel’s precarious geopolitical situation makes its position more sensitive in the existing highly competitive energy market in the region. Especially since neighbouring countries have also discovered new gas resources such as Aphrodite in Cyprus and Zohr in Egypt, competing with future Israeli gas in local markets.’
Export agreements to Jordan and Egypt have already been agreed for the Leviathan Phase 1A gas volumes. A contract was signed between Israel and Egypt in 2018 to export 2,258bn cf of gas over a decade via pipeline. Israel will also export 106bn cf/y of gas to Jordan, starting from 2020.
However, Israel will also need access to additional markets; otherwise it will not be able to export large quantities of natural gas. Upstream projects such as Leviathan Phase 1B and future expansions of Leviathan and Karish will not be possible without additional export routes and new investment in exploration is likely to be limited as well.
Markham concludes: ‘The Eastern Mediterranean is an exploration hotspot, with a string of multi-tn cf discoveries over the past few years, which could be possible alternatives to the Israeli gas in the neighbouring countries and Europe. Israel hopes to sign a deal for the construction of the 2,000 km EastMed pipeline, which will cross from Israel and Cyprus into Greece and later via Poseidon IGI pipeline to Italy. The project is designed to export 353bn cf/y of natural gas from the Leviathan Basin (in Israel and Cyprus). However, this project is at a very early stage with no firm commitments made towards its construction and any failure in Israel’s export strategies will directly affect the investment going into Israel’s upstream sector.’
Figure 1: Israel gas production versus domestic gas demand, agreed export volumes, 2010–2029