Israel Resumes Offshore Natural-Gas Exploration

June 8, 2022 | Zev Chafets
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The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has created an energy crisis in Europe, which can no longer rely on gas imported from Russia. Israel, which has spent two decades cultivating an offshore natural-gas industry, has an opportunity to meet this vital need. Zev Chafets reports:

Six months ago, at the climate summit in Glasgow, Israel’s newly elected prime minister Naftali Bennett pledged to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Israel’s small but vociferous community of environmental activists were jubilant over the reversal of the aggressive natural-gas drilling of the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a show of seriousness, Israel’s Energy Ministry announced a one-year freeze on gas exploration and on further export permits. From now on, thought the green lobby, renewables would be the future of Israeli energy. . . . That excitement came to a screeching halt last week, when the Bennett government announced a 180-degree shift in its natural-gas policy. The reason was obvious. As the director-general of the ministry, Lior Schillat, unapologetically put it, “The energy crisis in Europe has shuffled the deck. We are not sticking to dogma.”

The war in Ukraine has made it clear that it’s dangerous for a country to count on the goodwill of foreign suppliers for its energy needs. This is especially true for a country like Israel, a small nation in a hostile region. In the past twenty years, Israel has gone from being a net importer of fossil fuels to being self-sufficient, thanks to offshore gas drilling. The government is wise to preserve that independence and to take advantage of the demand from European nations looking for a substitute for Russian imports.

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