Israel cabinet okays gas development deal

The Israeli cabinet has approved a revised outline for natural gas regulation needed for development of deepwater Leviathan field and expansion of nearby Tamar field.

The approval came after Noble Energy Inc., operator, and Delek Group, a major interest owner, agreed to the revisions in a meeting with officials of the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy, and Water Resources.

In March, Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected a part of the outline that guaranteed regulatory and price stability for 10 years (OGJ Online, Mar. 28, 2016).

“The new version obviates the government’s obligation to oppose private legislation seeking to change policy relating to Israel’s offshore gas fields and provides greater leeway for future government administrations to revise natural gas policy, should the need arise,” the energy ministry said in a statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who supports further development of Israel’s offshore gas resources, welcomed the cabinet’s approval of the gas deal.

“The important thing now is not to delay,” he said.

Opposition remains strong, however. Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay asserted a lack of competition and said the outline allows prices too high to enable gas to cut pollution.

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