The Leviathan gas rig commenced its operations on Tuesday morning and began to pump natural gas from the field at the bottom of the sea and stream it towards Israel.
Local residents protested what they claimed was enhanced air pollution as a result of the operations. The rig released nitrogen gas into the atmosphere before pumping commenced. Nitrogen, which is an inert gas and makes up 78% of the atmosphere, was used to maintain internal pressure on the pipes to prevent them from collapsing from the undersea water pressure.
Residents living on the coast adjacent to the rig abandoned their homes in protest of the potential air pollution they said could be caused by the gas rig’s operations. Green groups have been very active in sowing concerns among local residents.
However, Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) assured them that the Leviathan gas field operator Noble Energy met the most stringent criteria and that there was no threat from the air pollution.
“There are no special guidelines for the public, and the impact on air quality in the coastal area adjacent to the rig is expected to be low,” the ministry stated.
“The natural gas will dramatically reduce air pollution, increase state revenue and make it an energy superpower. We waited many years for gas from Leviathan. We will wait a few more days,” Noble Energy stated last week.
The Leviathan Reservoir is a partnership owned by Delek Drilling (45.33%), Noble Energy (39.67%) and Ratio Oil Exploration (15%) that was established in December 2010.
The Leviathan gas field is the largest ever discovered in Israel’s territorial waters and is the second gas field to be connected to Israel after Tamar was connected six years ago.
Leviathan is one of the world’s largest deep-water natural gas discoveries found in the first decade of the 21st century. An estimated 605 BCM, or 22 trillion cubic feet, of natural gas and close to 40 million barrels of condensate have been discovered.
Most of the gas is meant for export to Jordan and to Egypt.
In total, some 35 trillion cubic feet of gas have been found in Israeli waters, worth some $500 billion.
These crucial discoveries enable Israel to become energy independent and have also turned Israel into a major player in the international energy-exporting market.
The Israeli government is expected to earn NIS 17 billion in royalties from the gas discoveries. Additionally, the windfall profits levy is expected to reach up to NIS 10 billion a year by 2040.