Our energy policies are dangerous
We’re a tiny country in a volatile region and global warming hotspot — the worst possible setup for the inherently dangerous, climate-warming
fossil fuel industry.
Our energy policies are dangerous
Israel’s energy policies are dangerous and unsustainable. We’re a tiny country in a volatile region and global warming hotspot — the worst possible setup for the inherently dangerous, climate-warming fossil fuel industry.
Israel has always faced energy supply concerns. During the ’50s and ’60s, it found minor oil and gas discoveries in its southern coastal plain and Judean Desert. It also produced large quantities from the Abu Rodes oil field in Sinai (from 1967 to 1975). However, these oil and gas resources were negligible compared to demands, and Israel remained dependent on imports, primarily through Egypt’s Arish-Ashkelon pipeline.
The discovery of vast natural gas reserves in 2009 (Tamar field), 2010 (Leviathan), and Karish-Tanin (2013) brought about a long-sought era of energy independence. Today, Tamar, estimated to contain over 200 billion cubic meters, supplies most of Israel’s electricity demands. The country also started exporting Tamar’s reserves in 2013. Leviathan’s gas is mainly exported to Egypt and Jordan, and the Karish-Tanin wells are also primarily intended for export.
Texas-based Noble Energy built, operated, and partially owned the Tamar and Leviathan wells until 2020, when Chevron bought it out. Chevron entered Israel amidst widespread concerns over its pollution record. Greece-based Energean operates the Karish-Tanin wells.
All the wells are between 55 to 75 miles offshore. The Tamar and Leviathan wells pipe their crude gas over long distances to processing rigs near Israel’s populated coast and water desalination plants. In contrast, the Karish-Tanin wells feature a floating processing rig near the well.
While these gas discoveries provide energy independence, solar energy is now far cheaper to produce than gas, thanks to new production and storage technologies. Moreover, the climate crisis and inherent dangers of fossil fuels to Israel’s national security, environment, public health, and tourism dictate the urgent transition to a low-carbon economy.
In 2021, only 9% of Israel’s electricity came from renewables. This, despite Israel’s plentiful sun, hi-tech capacities, and declared goal of 17% renewables set in 2015. Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennet committed to phasing out coal for energy production by 2025 and reducing Israel’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Critics claim that Israel still lacks an action plan to achieve this target. Moreover, the country’s interim target of a 27% fossil fuel reduction by 2030 is still only half the amount pledged by the United States and European Union.
[See: IHG report to Israel’s Electric Authority urging the transition to 80% renewables by 2030 instead of the 30% proposed (In Hebrew)].
GAS FIRED POWER PLANTS
Israel’s Electric Corporation (IEC) is the country’s primary electricity producer and distributor, controlling more than 95% of the energy sector.
The IEC and Israel’s Ministry of Energy are advancing plans for gas-fired facilities nationwide, including the OPC-2 in Hadera, planned near schools and residential neighborhoods. This is despite a recent report by the Ministry of Environment showing that Israel’s gas-fired power plants emit seven times more carcinogens than even its coal-fired power plants.
REGIONAL ENERGY PLAYER
In 2020, aiming to position itself as a critical regional energy player, Israel co-initiated the East-Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMFG) with Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum, Tarek El-Molla. It also began exploring oil and gas collaborations with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Sudan, and Bahrain, following the normalization of ties with these countries.
Plans include using Israel as an energy corridor to transport crude oil from the Persian Gulf to Europe. Tankers will transport the gulf oil to Eilat, which will then be piped through Israel’s Negev and Arava deserts to Ashkelon’s port. In parallel, gas extracted in the Mediterranean will be piped to Eilat to be liquefied and exported. This project will turn the cities of Ashkelon and Eilat into oil and liquid gas hubs.
Instead of advancing collaborations that will anchor the region to fossil fuels for decades, sun-drenched Israel should apply its hi-tech prowess to promote local and regional green energy projects.
Please help transition Israel to life-saving clean energy