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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Israel’s Offshore Natural Gas Discoveries Enhance Its Economic and Energy Outlook

Michael Ratner
Analyst in Energy Policy

Israel has been dependent on energy imports since it became a nation in 1948, but the recent offshore natural gas discoveries could change that and possibly make Israel an exporter of natural gas. Development of the recently discovered natural gas fields—Tamar, Dalit, and Leviathan— likely will decrease Israel’s needs for imported natural gas, imported coal, and possibly imported oil. A switch to natural gas would most likely affect electric generation, but could also improve Israel’s trade balance and lessen carbon dioxide emissions. Regionally, Israel’s success thus far has sparked interest from its neighbors to explore their boundaries for energy resources and has raised concerns from Lebanon about sovereignty over the discoveries. Development of these new resources, and possibly other discoveries, would enhance Israel’s economic and energy security. Israel is in the early stages of formulating the regulatory framework to oversee the development of these resources and may seek assistance from the United States or other natural gas producing countries in weighing its options.

Key Points: 
  • The new discoveries—depending upon the actual production—could represent over 200 years’ worth of Israel’s current natural gas consumption. 
  • Israel’s electrical generation sector will likely be the beneficiary of the new natural gas resources. 
  • Additional natural gas and possibly oil resources may exist.

Date of Report: May 4, 2011
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: R41618
Price: $29.95

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