Russia was seeking to enter the Israeli natural gas industry, following a meeting in Russia last Thursday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Russian Sputnik, citing ‘the documents’
“Among the promising areas of cooperation <…> the energy sphere (Russian companies are interested in participating in the natural gas production projects on the Mediterranean coast of Israel), ” the documents read.
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According to the materials, the promising areas of bilateral cooperation are aircraft construction, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and healthcare.
Netanyahu’s visit comes soon after Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited the Russian capital in March. During the meeting, with Israeli President, Putin noted that he was planning to hold talks with the Israeli prime minister in the near future.
In February 2013, Gazprom, the Russian the national gas company, signed a memorandum of understanding to buy gas produced from the Tamar reservoir through a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility. Gazprom agreed to buy three million tons of LNG a year, amounting to 4.1 BCM, Israeli business site Globes reported.
The project was never implemented, among other things because the Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources never approved the export project.
Gazprom also negotiated for several months to buy up to 30 precent of the Leviathan reservoir. The initiative to recruit a strategic partner in the rights to the reservoir originated in the realization by the current partners that they lacked the financial capability, know-how, and connections needed to realize the huge reservoir’s potential as soon as possible. According to reports, other companies that expressed interest in a partnership in Leviathan included South Korean company Kogas, Chinese company CNOOC, and Australian company Woodside. Gazprom has apparently submitted the highest bid.
The commentator in an article: “Russia’s new Middle East energy game” reports that the Tamar deal is just for starters. The Kremlin is playing a much bigger game. Gazprom is already eyeing a role in the development of Israel’s gigantic Leviathan gas field. With its estimated 25 tcf of gas Leviathan is due to come on-stream by 2016. And the eastern Mediterranean bonanza is potentially huge. The US Geological Survey estimates the eastern Mediterranean Levant Basin contains around 123 tcf of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil.
Given that the Leviathan-Tamar holdings are dominated by a raft of Israeli companies (Delek, Avnar Oil Exploration and others) together with a 39 percent stake held by the US oil major Noble Energy – effectively a joint Israeli-US venture – one can only surmise that critical security commitments have been made by the Kremlin to their new Israeli and US partners.