Israel will export natural gas to Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, a top US official told Bloomberg, claiming political obstacles preventing the export deals will be overcome.
“We have a remarkable situation where the self-interest of each of the parties is remarkably similar in the energy sphere,” Bloomberg quoted Amos Hochstein as saying. Hochstein, the US State Department’s special envoy for international energy affairs in the region, gave an interview at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv University.
Despite the massive gas find, Israel and its corporate partners in the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields are still struggling to finalize export deals with regional partners. A looming deal with Jordan is said to be near closed, but despite the potential, some of the future clients cite Israel’s polices toward Palestinians as cause for delay.
But Hochstein says this will be overcome and new energy ties in Mideast will help alleviate at least some of those diplomatic tensions, Bloomberg reported.
“Energy won’t be a leader of the political process, but it can be a key incentive to move the geopolitical positions in a more positive direction,” he was quoted as saying said.
“There are a number of stumbling blocks on the way to a commercial deal, but I also see a lot of interest,” Hochstein said. “There are political implications and impediments, and if they can be overcome, this can be a great win-win for Turkey, Cyprus, Israel and the rest of the region,” Bloomberg reported.
Hochstein was quoted as saying said Israel must to set out clearer policies to attract international actors to develop its gas sector, a veiled reference to an Israeli decision to increased royalties levied on oil and gas producers, a move which also capped the amount of fuel that can be exported. The decision came after a public outcry and a subsequent government committee.
“If there is regulatory certainty and legal certainty which leads to contract sanctity, you will see more interest here,” Hochstein said.
According to the report, Hochstein helped broker the deals signed this year between Noble Energy, the US company partnering with Israeli firms in the field’s development, and Jordan’s Arab Potash Co.
The US envoy also “coordinated and supported” talks on signing of a letter of intent last September between Noble and its Israeli partners to provide the Jordan with gas over 15 years.
According to the report, Noble and its local partners also signed non-binding letters of intent with Egypt, but the 6.25 trillion cubic deal is still pending Egyptian government approval. According to Bloomberg, energy deals with Israel are a contentious issue in Egypt, which ceased gas shipments in 2012 after multiple bombing attacks on a Sinai pipeline.
The report further cited a proposed undersea pipeline said to be under discussion by Israeli and Turkish firms, also said to be facing political opposition. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has said he’ll oppose the project if Israel does not change its policies and pay retribution as well as apologize for the deaths which took place on the 2010 Mavi Maramara flotilla to Gaza.