Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Israeli gas finds secure its self sufficiency
by Staff Writers
Hadera, Israel (AFP) May 22, 2013

Syria's jihadists have edge, control oil
Beirut, Lebanon (UPI) May 22, 2013 - The seizure of Syrian oil fields by jihadist rebels of the al-Nusra Front could accelerate the breakup of Syria amid a conflict-driven reshaping of the Middle East's geopolitical landscape.

The European Union lifted a 2011 embargo on Syrian oil April 22 in what was intended as a move to aid the moderate rebel groups being supported by the West and Saudi Arabia.

But they haven't got much out of that because it's the anti-Western jihadists who took control of most of the fields captured from the Damascus regime of President Bashar Assad in late 2012.

Al-Nusra rebels are processing the crude themselves, selling refined products to fill their warchests. Industry sources say a single tankerload can make a profit of to $10,000.

"In some areas, al-Nusra has struck deals with government forces to allow the transfer of crude across the front lines to the Mediterranean coast," British security analyst Julian Borger observed in the British daily The Guardian.

"The stranglehold that the al-Nusra Front and its allies have achieved over Syria's oil fields signals a decisive moment in the conflict that will shape the rapidly and violently evolving map of the new Middle East."

This has greatly strengthened the hard-line jihadists, the very people the European Union and the West wanted to diminish, and imposed greater difficulties on the pro-Western rebel forces, such as the Free Syrian Army backed by Saudi Arabia.

"More importantly, as so often in history, control over hydrocarbons has solidified new lines on the map," Borger noted.

"The fact that the Syrian army has withdrawn from the heart of the country and the victorious Salafist groups have not pressed their attack but instead entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with Damascus over the oil, show that both are satisfied with the dividing lines ...

"With the rise of al-Nusra, the importance of the Syrian-Iraqi border, forged nearly a century ago by Britain and France in the Sykes-Picot agreement, is eroding fast as Sunni Salafist groups on both sides find common cause ...

"While the makings of a Sunni mini-state are emerging ... in Upper Mesopotamia, stretching from Turkey to central Iraq, a Kurdish state is forming to the east, again crystallized with the help of oil."

Al-Nusra's oil processing is carried out at makeshift, open-air refineries in resource-rich Deir Ezzor and al-Raqqa provinces in eastern Syria, where the group linked to al-Qaida seized control in 2012 along with its allies.

They also overran oil fields in Syria's Kurdish region in the northeastern al-Hassakeh governate near the border with Iraq. These fields, operated by Royal Dutch Shell, Total of France and others before the fighting, produce high-quality crude.

It's not clear what the rebels' oil output or refining capacity is but it's undoubtedly only a fraction of the 400,000 barrels per day Assad's regime was producing before the civil war began March 15, 2011.

Industry sources say Damascus continued limited production for domestic refining amid the fighting, estimated at 160,000 bpd in October 2012. The International Energy Agency estimated production later slipped to less than 130,000 bpd.

When the European Union imposed the oil ban to cripple the regime, Syria's reserves stood at 2.5 billion barrels.

That's chicken feed in terms of major producers like Saudi Arabia, with reserves of 262 billion barrels and an output of around 10 million bpd, but it earned the regime around $4 billion a year. That accounted for around one-third of Syria's trade.

However, Syria almost certainly has significant natural gas reserves offshore under the eastern Mediterranean, where Israel and Cyprus have already made big strikes and Lebanon plans to start exploration in 2014.

Gas production from huge offshore deposits along its Mediterranean coast is enabling Israel to shift from costly and unreliable imports to a growing self-sufficiency and the potential to become an energy exporter.

Politicians and lobbyists are already fiercely grappling over how much of the newly-discovered natural resource can be sold abroad, with the environmental lobby urging caution over the level of exports.

Speaking at the control room in Hadera of the country's largest power plant, Eli Glickman, president of state-owned Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), pointed to Israel's dependence on gas and coal imports.

"In case of problems, we have no backup in the neighbourhood," he said.

But in the past few years, two high-yield gas fields, Tamar and Leviathan, have been discovered off the coast of northern Israel, fundamentally changing the equation.

When the first gas from Tamar was delivered two months ago, Haaretz daily hailed it as "the great lucky event of this decade," waxing lyrical about how exports could mend and even improve ties with Arab neighbours.

For IEC vice president Yasha Hain, the most important issue is that the gas finds end uncertainty over the security of Israel's energy supplies.

The 250 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas from Tamar, which lies 80 kilometres (43 nautical miles) west of the northern port city of Haifa, are earmarked solely for the internal Israeli market, which will be "enough for more than the next 50 years," Hain told AFP.

And the gas reserves in the Leviathan field, which is twice as large, could be used in part for export.

Within five years, Israel will be able to provide electricity to Cyprus by means of an underwater cable, he said.

"It should be ready by 2018," he said.

"From Cyprus, it will go on to Crete and Greece. Italy should be connected to us by these means in 2021."

Leviathan is the largest gas deposit found in the world in a decade, and its 540 bcm could supply the entire electricity demand of Europe for a year.

But there are already political hurdles.

Around half of Israel's 120 MPs signed a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, saying it should be parliament that "debates and legislates" about gas exports, since the issue has weighty "financial, social and environmental ramifications."

The concerns are being driven by the environmental lobby which wants to see Israel meet its own needs before exporting the bulk of its newfound energy resources.

Using natural gas to generate electricity produces significantly less sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust particles than using coal, which still accounts for over 60 percent of the fuel currently used in Israeli power plants.

A decision is expected this month.

A possible compromise could see a quota of gas reserved for domestic use, or keeping reserves in Israel long enough to ensure sufficient independent gas supplies to also benefit future generations.

Foreign strategists and corporations, as well as US and Australian concerns, are confident at least some of the reserves will be exported.

Liquefying Leviathan's gas so it can be easily exported by tanker is also an option under serious consideration, perhaps in partnership with Cyprus.

For Hain, there is a biblical twist to the story.

"Moses promised us the land of honey and milk," he quipped.

"I would say that after 4,000 years, we can use also gas, and that way, our milk will be much cheaper."


Related Links
Powering The World in the 21st Century at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

French-Asian firms reveal LNG contract in Canada
Paris (AFP) May 22, 2013
A consortium comprising French, South Korean and Chinese companies has won a contract for a liquefied natural gas project in Canada, the French partner Technip said on Wednesday. The other partners are Samsung of South Korea and Huanqiu of China. The value of the contract was not divulged. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a rapidly growing component of the energy sector, in large part ... read more

Moon being pushed away from Earth faster than ever

Bright Explosion on the Moon

NASA says meteor impact on the moon glowed like a star

Where on Earth did the moon's water come from

Mars Rover Opportunity Examines Clay Clues in Rock

Opportunity Rides Into History For Offworld Drive

NASA Mars Rover Curiosity Drills Second Rock Target

Mars Icebreaker Life Mission

Desert Tests Pave Way for Human Exploration of Small Bodies

Russia designs reusable spacecraft good for as many as five missions

British astronaut 'Major Tim' to fly to ISS

Danish Space Venture ready for lift off

China launches communications satellite

On Course for Shenzhou 10

Yuanwang III, VI depart for space-tracking missions

Shenzhou's Shadow Crew

Next destination: space

Russia to Send 'Stress-Relief' Software to ISS

Mice, gerbils perish in Russia space flight

Star Canadian spaceman back on Earth, relishing fresh air

O3b Networks Launcher and payload integration are underway at Kourou

Arianespace underscores strong partnership with Japan during Tokyo meetings

O3b Networks' initial satellite is fueled for Arianespace's upcoming Soyuz launch from the Spaceport

Ariane Flight VA214's launch vehicle marks a preparation milestone

Critical Kepler Reaction Wheel Fails: Mission End In Sight

Sifting Through the Atmosphere's of Far-Off Worlds

New Method of Finding Planets Scores its First Discovery

Team Takes Part in Discovering New Planet

Iron-platinum alloys could be new-generation hard drives

Computational tool translates complex data into simplified 2-dimensional images

3-D modeling technology offers groundbreaking solution for engineers

NASA Seeks High-Performance Spaceflight Computing Capabilities

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement