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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Natural gas’

Netanya Mayor Remanded for 6 Days on Suspicion of Corruption, Bribes

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg Ikar was in Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court Wednesday, along with three other suspects, including a senior official in her administration and a real estate developer, to hear police request for a remand in her investigation on suspicion of corruption.

A representative of the Police told the court that “this is a convoluted and complex investigation involving serious suspicions of public corruption on the highest order,” which is why police were requesting a 10-day remand. In the end the court allowed a 6-day remand for the mayor, her former husband Eli Feierberg, Rabbi Shimon Sher, chairman of the local planning and construction committee, and a developer whose name was not disclosed.

Mayor Feirberg and the other three are suspected of various crimes of accepting bribes. “These are public figures who violated the public’s trust,” the police representative told the court.

During the hearing, Feirberg interfered in her attorney’s comments to the court and the judge stopped her and said, “I understand this situation is uncomfortable for you, but do let your attorney speak, he knows what he’s talking about.” Feirberg shot back, “Why? I only asked to answer all their questions.”

Police suspect high ranking officials in the Netanya municipality and their circles of associates of working to promote the interests of contractors and developers in Netanya real estate projects, in return for bribes and other gifts. These officials are suspected of operating habitually with conflicts of interest without reporting them, with everyone being involved in bribery, fraud, money laundering and tax evasions.

Since the investigation has been revealed, police have seized and frozen accounts and assets to support possible future requests for forfeiture. The investigation is being run in collaboration by the National police Unit and the Income Tax Investigations Unit.

Other suspects, in addition to Mayor Feirberg, are her son, attorney Tzafrir Feirberg, contractor and developer Avraham T’shuva, the brother of natural gas and real estate tycoon Itzhak T’shuva, Attorney Rabbi Avraham Gogig, and architect Gabi Tetro.

David Israel

As US Anthropologists Reject BDS Resolution, Israeli Economy Thriving Despite Boycotts

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

On Tuesday, the 10,000-member American Anthropological Association announced the results of a vote on its proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions: the call to boycott failed. After many who are close to the organization had predicted the measure would pass, it lost by 2,423 to 2,384 votes.

The failure of the boycott proposal came as unexpected relief to people like Ted Gup, a professor of journalism at Emerson College, who wrote on the eve of the vote in The Chronicle of Higher Education that it is “misguided, counterproductive, and sure to damage both the association and the Palestinian cause.” He added that “it also puts at risk any network of scholars by inviting similar future reprisals.” Also, he warned that “the boycott will harm the very people it is intended to help and embolden those whose hardline policies the AAA disdains.” But “beyond all this,” Gup, who is Jewish, noted that “the boycott itself is irreparably flawed and discredited by the historical and contemporary context that produced it.”

It also appears that the boycotts have had no influence at all on Israel’s economy, which today is the fastest growing in OEDC, according to a Bloomberg News report citing a steep increase in foreign investments in Israeli assets, which last year hit a record high of $285.12 billion, “a near-tripling from 2005 when the so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was started by a group of Palestinians.”

“We don’t have a problem with foreign investment in Israel — on the contrary,” Yoel Naveh, chief economist at Israel’s finance ministry, told Bloomberg.

According to people from the entire spectrum of the market: money managers, economists and government officials, “Israeli assets are an attractive alternative to weak performers elsewhere.” And even though Israel’s economy has slowed down in 2016, it is still growing faster than the economies of the US and Europe and its interest rate is higher.

Interestingly, Bloomberg also reported that the business community rejects the fabricated accusations against Israel perpetrated by the BDS activists, “that investing in Israeli innovation and natural gas violates Palestinian rights, and that Israel’s misdeeds are so exceptional that they justify singling it out for censure.”

Bloomberg quotes data collected by IVC Research Center which suggests that even with an appreciating shekel, Israeli startups have raised $3.76 billion in 2015 from foreign investors, their highest annual figure in ten years. In 2015 Israeli industrial high-tech exports rose 13% from 2014 to $23.7 billion, and in 2016 Israel’s economy is expected to grow 2.8%, compared with the US (1.8%) and the EU (1.8%).

Or, as the Torah put it, back in 1248 BCE: “But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became.” (Exodus 1:12)

Back to the failed BDS vote at the AAA, there’s a point Ted Gup was making in his thoughtful article which suggests the more Israel makes itself known to the world, the less would anti-Semitic NGOs be able to feed off its flesh. “In the summer of 2015, with the support of a Fulbright, I taught at the University of Haifa, in Israel’s third-largest city and one of its most secular and progressive urban centers,” Gup related. “The university boasts a student population that is one-third Arab. It is common to see student-soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces, rifles slung over their shoulders, checking alongside their Arab classmates the same class announcement boards or discussing homework. Nor is it unusual for heated debates about Israeli policy to arise between Jews and Arabs in the classroom — and even more commonly, between Jews and Jews.”

Then he made a most cogent point, coming as it does from a leftwing perspective: “So how does a learned society like the AAA justify punishing the likes of the University of Haifa or see doing so as an effective message to the Israeli government? Many of my colleagues on the Haifa faculty openly criticize that government, as do their students. A wholesale boycott of academic institutions applies the same indiscriminate standard of punishment that the association says it abhors. The AAA would argue that you don’t bulldoze a house or bomb a block in Gaza because of one attacker. How then do you justify cutting off relations with all Israeli academic institutions based not on actions but on geography?”

JNi.Media

High Court Suspends Natural Gas Deal, Harming Israel’s Relations with Energy Firms

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday accepted some of the petitions against the Netanyahu government’s natural gas outline which included development and exploitation of the country’s newly discovered off-shore deposits by Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group.

In a four to one vote, the justices specifically ruled against the “stability clause,” which blocks any government regulatory changes to the off-shore gas outline for the next ten years – something that Netanyahu had promised the energy companies, in order to guarantee them stability in return for their massive investments.

This clause is considered legally problematic as it obligates future governments and Knessets, without actually having been passed via legislation.

The court ruling means the entire signed deal is suspended until the Knesset has a chance to review and amend the law. The court gave the Netanyahu government one year to fix the clause, or the deal would die.

Out of all the petitions that had been submitted to the high court after the law had been approved, the court embraced most decidedly the appeal from three good government groups — Movement for Quality Government, Association for Environmental Defense, and Israel Energy Forum — who also argued against the validity of the clause 52 maneuver, which was used by Netanyahu in an elaborate process that involved firing the state regulator, handing a government minister the Interior portfolio from which he had been removed in disgrace over embezzlement, and the Prime Minister’s claiming for himself the Economy portfolio.

Clause 52 permits the economy minister to bypass the objections of the state regulator and create a de facto monopoly, for security reasons.

Many observers had been placing small bets on whether or not the Prime Minister’s complicated political circus act would land him in front of a Supreme court veto. Surprisingly, it didn’t. In the end, the court did not challenge Netanyahu’s masterful maneuvers, but by striking down the stability clause, it may still kill the deal.

The good government groups argued the PM lacked the authority to approve the gas outline; pointed to supposed deficiencies in the approval process; claimed the absence of a relevant factual basis to establish the outline; decried an assault on the rule of law; cited violation of the principle of distributive justice; claimed injury to the intergenerational justice; accused the PM of violating the public trust; said the law had a lack of proportionality; and declared it was an extremely unreasonable legislation. The only thing missing was the kitchen sink.

But the court only accepted their argument regarding the stability clause.

Still, the three judges who voted to suspend the law were adamant in their condemnation of the Netanyahu government’s lack of respect for the democratic process. Justice Esther Hayut, who is slated to become the next Chief Justice, wrote regarding the stability clause that it is the most excessive overreach by the Prime Minister, in that it ties up government’s hand for a decade against changes in regulating and taxing the natural gas exploitation.

Israel’s energy minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that the Supreme Court made an “unfortunate decision” in blocking the government’s plan to develop the offshore natural gas fields, warning it could cause irreversible damage to Israel’s energy sector. “The decision’s negative consequences on the development of the gas market, on energy security, on the Israeli economy and on the lost revenue for the state of Israel and its citizens, could be very tough, and even irreversible,” Steinitz said in a statement.

At this point it is unclear whether Netanyahu would be able to fix the stability clause in the current political reality of the Knesset.

Two ministers, Galant (Kulanu) and Katz (Likud) have had to recuse themselves from the debate for reasons of a conflict of interests, as would, possibly, Finance Minister Kahlon. This leaves a tie of 59 to 59. A lot will depend on MK Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu opposition faction, who may not be so eager to lend a helping hand to Netanyahu. And even if the PM manages to pass an amended bill, it is to be expected that the left in the House would take it right back to the Supreme Court.

PM Netanyahu said he would find a way to overcome the damage the court’s ruling just did to Israel’s economy. But for the time being, the gas will continue to remain stuck under the sea.

David Israel

Noble Energy, Delek to Speed Up Israeli Gas Production at Leviathan

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

The developers of the mammoth Leviathan natural gas field filed an expanded development plan Wednesday with the Petroleum Supervisor at Israel’s Ministry of Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources.

Texas-based Noble Energy Inc., Delek Group Ltd., and Delek Drilling LP now plan to speed up development to bring gas and condensates on stream by 2019, Globes reported.

There’s good reason to move as fast as possible: until the gas begins flowing, the cost of development is $5-6 billion. Still, the first estimate for what has become Israel’s largest infrastructure project was originally $6-7 billion.

Eight drilling sites are to be connected by an underground pipeline to the platform and rig where all the gas management systems will be installed. This platform will be linked to the coast by another pipeline to be built by the Israel Natural Gas Lines Company. From there, the gas will be sold to Israeli customers at home and exported to neighboring countries as well.

Production capacity will reach 21 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year in order to meet market demand. This is five bcm more than the original development plan, which capped at 16 bcm.

The annual pipeline capacity will only be 12 bcm; however there will be an additional outlet on the platform at sea, which could be used to export directly to a regional nation as needed. That outlet will also be able to handle a 12 bcm per year pipeline as well.

All the gas treatment which is to take place at sea, will be carried out in accordance with the national master plan that was approved by the relevant authorities.

Hana Levi Julian

Oil Prices Hitting Barrel Bottoms: Good News for Israel

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Oil prices in the U.S. dropped to around $27 per barrel last week, worrying investors and raising the hopes of those who placed their bets on the Leviathan gas field in Israel.

Oil supplies in the U.S. right now are glutted, to be blunt.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 44 cents at $27.01 per barrel, within a squeak to the one-day $26.19 per barrel in January, the lowest since 2003. Brent crude futures traded at $30.67 per barrel, down 17 cents.

Chart analysts said crude prices may be just days away from falling to $25 a barrel – the price in April 2003 – or below, as weakening technicals put more pressure on the market, according to Reuters.

Japan is celebrating the National Foundation Day, a public holiday, and China’s New Year holiday lasts all week, so trading activity in Asia has remained low. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong resumed trading after being closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Nevertheless, British Petroleum (BP) forecast on Wednesday that demand for energy will increase in the next 20 years due to growth in world population and economy. The firm made its rosy prediction in its 2035 Energy Outlook report, commenting that although oil demand may decline, the demand for gas and renewable energy will grow. Gas remains the fastest-growing fossil fuel, according to the report, rising by 1.8 percent per year, compared to oil’s 0.9 percent growth. Renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind are projected to grow at around 6.6 percent per year.

Israel’s Leviathan natural gas field is just starting to make its debut into the market.

An Israeli-Turkish consortium, the Edeltech Group and Zorlu Enerji, has signed the first contract with the Leviathan development group, Texas-based Noble Energy, Israel’s Delek Drilling and Avner Oil.

Leviathan, believed to contain approximately 22 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, will provide six billion cubic meters of the energy resource to the Israeli-Turkish consortium at a cost of $1.3 billion over a period of 18 years.

Recently another natural gas reservoir was discovered by ISRAMCO and Modiin Energy LP off the coast of Israel, along the borders of the mammoth Tamar gas field, the first one to be discovered beneath Israel’s Mediterranean waters.

The licenses for Daniel East and Daniel West, as the reservoir has been designated, “have the greatest potential since Leviathan.”

The reservoir is about the same size as Tamar, which currently serves much of Israel’s needs. The next step is drilling to test the potential prospects of the reservoir – but trading for the field is already brisk on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).

A seven-year gas deal with Egypt was announced last year by the Tamar partners with Dolphinus Holdings, with five billion cubic meters of natural gas to be sold for $1.2 billion in the first three years. As with Leviathan, Noble Energy, Delek Drilling and Avner Oil are the partners who operate Tamar. The gas was to run through the underwater pipeline built nearly a decade ago by East Mediterranean Gas (EMG).

The Tamar natural gas field has been producing its precious energy resource for the domestic market since 2013.

Hana Levi Julian

Leviathan’s First Deal Signed With Israeli-Turkish Consortium

Monday, February 1st, 2016

The Leviathan natural gas field is launching its debut into the world of domestic production and foreign export, simultaneously.

The mammoth natural gas field will supply two private companies with its natural resource in a new $1.3 billion contract signed with Edeltech Group (owned by the Edelsburg family) and its Turkish partner, Zorlu Enerji. The partnership purchased six billion cubic meters of gas to be supplied over 18 years.

The field is being developed and is controlled by Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group. It is believed to contain approximately 22 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

“We continue to work with all our might to make progress on developing the Leviathan reservoir and to bring the gas to the Israeli economy and its industry,” Delek Drilling CEO Yossi Abu said. “This deal is a harbinger of things to come, and we intend to further promote sales contracts with customers in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey,” Abu was quoted by Globes as saying.

Two new power stations will be built for the purpose in Israel. The Tamar station will be located in the Negev next to the Haifa Chemicals plant at Mishor Rotem. That project will cost an estimated $250 million. The Soldad Energy plant will be located nex to CHS in Ashdod, for approximately $125 million.

Contracts have already been signed between the two partners to build the Ramat Negev Energy station, Dorad Energy plant in Ashkelon and the Ashdod Energy station.

Despite the recent plummet in oil and gas prices, Noble Energy’s Israel Country Manager Bini Zomer told Globes on Sunday that if enough contracts are signed, “Despite those challenges, Noble believes that the Leviathan project can move forward based on domestic and export opportunities and because of the positive climate created by the Natural Gas Framework.

“With the continued cooperation and mutual commitment of the regulators, the State of Israel and the lease holders, a Final Investment Decision (FID) can be achieved by the end of 2016 with the flow of gas to domestic and regional markets within 3-4 years from FID and as early as the end of 2019 in accordance to what was articulated in the Framework and the Leviathan leases.”

Hana Levi Julian

New Israeli Gas Field Discovered, ‘Greatest Potential Since Leviathan’

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

ISRAMCO and Modiin Energy LP reported Sunday a new natural gas field has been discovered beneath the waves of the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Israel, with “the greatest potential since Leviathan.”

The new gas field was discovered along the borders of the mammoth Tamar gas reservoir. It’s about the same size as Tamar, which currently serves much of Israel’s needs.

The reservoir was reported by Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc., in a resources estimate on the Daniel East and West licenses held by the two companies.

According to Tzahi Sultan, who owns part of the controlling interest in Modiin Energy, the Daniel licenses “have the greatest potential since Leviathan.”

Trading in Daniel East and Daniel West was suspended on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) pending the announcement, according to Globes business news service.

“Gas reserves of this order could significantly change Israel’s energy industry,” Sultan was quoted by Globes. “If the potential is realized, the disocvery could help competition in the Israeli gas industry a great deal and could completely change the picture.”

After trading resumed, participation units in ISRAMCO jumped by 8.46 percent, and units in Modiin skyrocketed by 34.3 percent.

“We are excited at the potential that has been revealed for finding gas in the Daniel East and Daniel West licensed,” Modiin Energy CEO Ron Maor said in a statement.

“This is potential of a significant size which, if realized, could represent competition for the currently existing reserves, and improve the country’s energy security. Together with our partners we will carry out drilling to test the potential prospects as soon as possible.

“We hope that the State of Israel will encourage further activity in the potential gas reserves in the Daniel East and Daniel West fields.”

The Tamar gas field was discovered in January 2009, also in the Mediterranean Sea off the Israel coastline. The field is located in Israel’s exclusive economic zone, roughly 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Haifa in waters 1,700 meters (5,600 feet) deep. The adjoining Tamar South field added even more reserves. Together, the two finds comprised the largest discovery at the time of gas or oil in the Levant basin of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The Leviathan gas field is one of the world’s largest offshore gas finds of the past decade, and is believed to ultimately have the potential to change Israel’s relations with its neighbors. It is located about 47 kilometers (29 miles) southwest of Tamar, about 130 kilometers (81 miles) west of Haifa. It’s about 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) deep in the Levantine basin.

In November 2015, the developers of the Leviathan gas field closed and inked their first gas deal with Egypt.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/new-israeli-gas-field-discovered-greatest-potential-since-leviathan/2016/01/17/

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