A working visit to Israel by Gazprom officials, led by Chief Executive Officer Aleksei Miller, ended yesterday with agreements on future cooperation in the development of Israel's gas sector, according to a Rosbalt correspondent.
During the visit, Miller met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and the Gazprom delegation conducted negotiations with the country's vice-minister, Ehud Olmert, Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Infrastructure Minister Joseph Paritzky, as well as the president of the Ofer Group, Edin Ofer. The main topics of discussion were the delivery of Russian gas to Israel, and Gazprom's participation in the development of Israel's gas infrastructure.
According to the Israeli participants, Israel plans in the next several years to dramatically expand its gas infrastructure and to increase the percentage of gas in its energy balance from less than 1% to 25% by 2025. In order to do so, the country will build a major pipeline network, low-pressure distribution stations, as well as new gas electricity generating stations. The Israeli government expressed an interest in Gazprom's participation, particularly with regard to the designing and construction of those projects.
During his meeting with Miller, Sharon expressed a strong interest in the delivery of gas to Israel by Gazprom on the basis of long-term contracts. An agreement was concluded on the creation of a joint Israeli-Russian working group to work out the details of future projects. The most promising projects include the delivery of gas to Israel through Turkey using the capacity of the Blue Stream pipeline, and the construction of a new underwater pipeline through the Mediterranean. In addition, the possibility of delivering liquefied and compressed gas from Russian or Turkish shores will be studied.
An agreement was concluded on the signing in the near future of a memorandum of understanding to reflect all of the topics discussed, and will delegate respective tasks to the two sides.
Israel's energy distribution consists of 67% petroleum and 30% coal, while natural gas comprises less than 1% of the total energy balance. Israel does not have any major pipelines. Proved reserves of natural gas in Israel total 45 billion cubic meters. Gas production totals 100 million cubic meters. The expected growth in the use of gas is intended primarily for electricity production. According to the Infrastructure Ministry, by 2025 the use of natural gas in Israel will grow to 11.5 billion cubic meters.