TEL AVIV – Royal Dutch Shell Plc is considering buying natural gas from Israel and Cyprus in a measure that could turn the Mediterranean region into a major gas-producing hub, Bloomberg News reported Monday.
Shell is in talks with Israel’s Leviathan field and Cyprus’s Aphrodite field – which lie 20 miles apart – and if the deals go through the company would then pump the gas into liquefaction plants in Egypt.
Noble Energy Inc. and Delek Drilling LP, partners in both Israel and Cyprus, are facing an estimated development cost of $3.75 billion – which would be increased if the Shell deal goes through.
Together with Egypt’s enormous Zohr gas fields and those off Lebanon, the finds could create a hub of gas production on Europe’s doorstep in a region fraught with tension, the report said.
Last week, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that Israel’s Energy Ministry had presented its development plan for Karish and Tanin, two new undersea natural gas fields on the same day that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signed legislation that could pave the way for his country to become a major consumer of Israel’s natural gas.
According to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, the development plan “shows [Israel’s ability] to keep to the schedule” of development. The new fields, which are located alongside the larger Tamar and Leviathan gas fields, will mean “competition will increase and prices … will fall,” he said in a statement.
Altogether, the Tamar, Leviathan, Karish and Tanin fields would bring in NIS 350 billion ($92 billion), “more than all the U.S. aid granted over the years to Israel,” Steinitz said.
Egyptian President Sisi meanwhile signed a bill that moves toward establishing a new regulatory body that would allow private sector companies to begin importing gas.
Although there have been many deals signed in the past, the implementation stage failed mainly due to regulatory red tape. The new Egyptian legislation, which will go into effect later in the year, should ease the way for such deals to go through in the future. At least five companies have expressed interest in importing gas, Egyptian media reports said.