First Published: 2012-09-23

 

Gift or curse? Israel okays development of Gaza offshore gas field

 

Israel, which relies on Egypt for most of its natural gas, has at times publicly suggested it could purchase gas from Gaza Marine field.

 

Middle East Online

Field development has been on hold for years

JERUSALEM - Israel has held new talks with the Palestinians over the development of a gas field off the coast of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli foreign ministry said in a new report released on Sunday.

The report, prepared for submission to a New York gathering of donors to the Palestinian Authority, describes meetings and initial negotiations between the two sides on the thorny subject of the development of the Gaza Marine gas field.

"Development of the Gaza Marine gas field will generate revenues that could contribute dramatically to Palestinian fiscal sustainability," the report says.

"Following an approach by the Palestinian Authority, Israel confirmed its intention to engage in a meaningful discussion with the aim of developing the Gaza Marine gas field.

"In this context, official letters were submitted and meetings took place between Israeli representatives and the Palestinian leadership. These were followed by initial negotiations between the relevant parties regarding the development of the Gaza Marine gas field."

An Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to specify when the meetings began or how advanced negotiations were, but he said Israel was eager to see work begin on the gas field.

"We're ready to move ahead on this. From our point of view this could be a big gain for the Palestinian Authority, and Israel's willing to move ahead on this quickly," he said.

"We have agreed on the principles, and now we can, from Israel's point of view, we are ready to move ahead very expeditiously with the process."

The report also gives no details when the meetings took place, or whether the discussions are ongoing.

The development of the Gaza Marine field has been on hold for years, with Israel and the Palestinians at odds over the project, despite international interest in exploiting the field.

The situation is additionally complicated by Palestinian internal divisions.

The Palestinian Authority government headed by president Mahmud Abbas controls only the West Bank, with Israel and much of the international community declining to engage with the Islamist Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip.

Israel, which relies on Egypt for most of its natural gas, has at times publicly suggested it could purchase gas from the field. But on other occasions it has disputed Palestinian sovereignty over the area.

The Palestinian Authority granted British Gas and the Consolidated Contractors Company group exploration rights in 1999, but Israeli objections and various disputes have held up development.

In 2007, British Gas ended negotiations with Israel on the sale of Gaza Marine gas to Israel, and subsequently closed its office in Israel.

British Gas drilled two wells in the area in 2000, estimating resources at 1 trillion cubic feet.

 

Russia mulls supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria

Bashir fires Sudan foreign minister

Washington: Assad still has 'limited' chemical capability

US has 'concerns' about Turkey holding fair vote under state of emergency

Saudi women embrace sports headscarves

Turkey in shock after violent Istanbul derby

Iraq pays first war reparations to Kuwait since 2014

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

Romanian president slams plan to move Israel embassy

Western strikes on Syria bring no change whatsoever

Trump criticises OPEC for high oil prices

Syria says rebels south of capital surrender

Market has capacity to absorb higher oil prices: Saudi minister

Putin 'ready' for Trump summit

Saudi Arabia to host first public film screening

HRW criticises Lebanon for evicting Syria refugees

Saudi says intercepted ballistic missile from Yemen

European MPs urge US not to scrap Iran deal

Oil price soars to highest level in years

Two more pro-Kurdish MPs stripped of Turkey seats

Oil theft 'costing Libya over $750 million annually'

Turkey's snap polls: bold gambit or checkmate for Erdogan?

Iran arrests senior official over public concert

Bahrain sentences 24 to jail, strips citizenship

UN experts urge Iran to cancel Kurd's death sentence

Moderate quake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant

Syria regime forces caught in surprise IS attack

Turkey sentences 18 to life for killing ‘hero’ coup soldier

Exxon faces setback in Iraq as oil and water mix

Libya to clamp down on fuel smuggling

Yemen to arrest colonel for overlooking African migrant rape

Erdogan sends Turkey to snap polls on June 24

Qatar joins Gulf military exercise in apparent compromise

Saudi-Russia oil alliance likely to undercut OPEC

UN in security talks with Syria on chemical probe

Riyadh says two al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen

Record of women candidates in Lebanon, but you can't tell from TV

Sudan protests to UN over Egypt voting in disputed area

Erdogan calls Turkey snap polls for June 24

Rights watchdog say African migrants face rape, torture in Yemen

Nine years since last vote, Lebanon in election fever

Israeli fire neat Gaza border injures five Palestinian

Egypt army says killed jihadist leader in Sinai

Iraq sentences over 300 people to death for IS links

Syria chemical weapons visit delayed after gunfire