In the face of continuing conflict with the Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given preliminary approval to purchase natural gas struck 35 kilometers offshore Gaza Strip, according to the London-based International Oil Daily. The field's total reserves are estimated at about 40 billion cubic meters.
The natural gas field was discovered in 1999 by the British Gas Group (BG) and its partner, the Athens-based Arab-owned Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), which holds a 10 percent stake in the venture. BG has paid Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) $40 million for the exploration and drilling concession of the Marine 1 site.
BG, which has already paid the Palestinian Authority for the concession, is now seeking to finalize sales agreements in Israel and Gaza, but it was not clear if any of the proceeds from Israel will return to the PA. "Gaza's needs are tiny and most of the gas is likely to go to Israel," it added, as only Israel has the right infrastructure to absorb all commercially viable gas.
The gas bound to Gaza will fuel a small 135-megawatt power plant under commissioning with the help of BG and CCC, said the newsletter. IOD said Israel has "ironically" turned to Gaza's gas as talks with the Egyptian-Israeli consortium EMG were frozen because of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Israel last year selected EMG to supply it with 1.7 billion cubic meters (60 billion cubic feet) per year of Egyptian gas.
In the Mediterranean Basin, BG Group is also involved in exploration, production and natural gas market development in Egypt, Tunisia, Italy and Israel. Under the 1995 Oslo II and Paris economic agreements, Israel and the PA have agreed to cooperate on oil and gas exploration And advance joint operations offshore Gaza. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )