Israel began tapping into a new field of natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean this week. Off shore drilling in the Noa well is expected to yield 1.3 billion cubic meters and save the Israeli economy approximately $170 million dollars this summer in energy costs.
In late April, a failed agreement brought natural gas imports from Egypt to a halt and sent the Israeli government scrambling to find alternate energy sources to meet peak electricity demands during the summer months. Since then, Israel has been relying on dirtier and more expensive fossil fuels to churn out electricity and avoid blackouts when demand outstrips available supplies.
The failed natural gas deal also exasperated financial woes for the state run Israel Electric Corporation. The company plans to issue 3 billion shekels in government backed bonds to help with its current fiscal crisis and to meet the higher cost of replacement fuel sources.
The natural gas now flowing from the Mediterranean's Noa field will help ease Israel's current energy crisis and lower energy costs.
“There is no question that this is an economic blessing,” said Environmental Protection Ministry Director-General Alona Shaefer-Karo, of the natural gas resources found deep in the sea.
The return to natural gas will also reduce environmental damage done by burning fossil fuels instead of cleaner natural gas.
”It's going to reduce pollution,” Shaefer-Karo told the audience at a sustainability conference held Thursday in Jerusalem.
Drilling in the Mediterranean, though, also poses its own environmental challenges. In addition to the destruction caused by pipelines and other apparatuses needed for the drilling, Knesset member Dov Khenin warned that “the Mediterranean Sea is a lake. If an environmental disaster happens there, we face a grave problem.”