Israel – the new gas energy giant

By Engr. Edgar Mana-ay

HOUSTON, Texas, USA – We associate the country of Israel as the land of the chosen people of God. This is the promise land which the 12 tribes, a descendant of Abraham the patriarch of both the Jews and the Arabs, occupied after their escape from the land of the Pharaoh in Egypt.

By 500 BC (Before Christ era) only two tribes, Judah and Levi, survived the passage of time. The rest were conquered, exiled and totally and irrevocably assimilated by other societies.

For more than 3,000 years of tumultuous and turbulent history as a nation, the Jewish people were scattered all over the world eventually losing their nation but maintaining its anguished cry: “Next year in Jerusalem. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my hand wither and my tongue cleave in the roof of my mouth!”

Its diaspora ended when the United Nations in November 1947 declared the birth of the modern Israel nation.

As a historical foot note, it was President Harry Truman of the US who led the campaign for Israel’s existence vigorously, supported by Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union. While Stalin was hostile to Zionism (a political movement to return Jews to its homeland), he was attracted to the possibility of forcing Britain, the colonial master at that time of the Middle East, out of the region so the Soviet can take over (which they did by first influencing Egypt and built them the Aswan Dam).

During the UN resolution voting to recognize nationhood of Israel, the Philippines was among the countries colonized by Spain who opposed because of the pressure from the Roman Catholic Church who believed it will lost control of Jerusalem once it becomes capital of a reborn nation of Israel.

Since then, the country of Israel was never known as an energy producer, in fact it was only in 2004 that this country of 9 million – 74% Jews and 20% Arabs – started a modest natural gas production in 2003 from its off shore Tamar gas fields, 80 km. from Haifa in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

In 2010, 125 km. further out in the sea from Haifa, the Leviathan natural gas field located in the Levantine Basin of the Mediterranean Sea was discovered with estimated gas in place of 990 BILLION cubic meters and an estimated recoverable volume of 620 BILLION cubic meters!

In comparison, our Malampaya gas fields which will be exhausted 5 years from now, has 8 BILLION cu m in place reserve, less than 1% of Israel’s. Drillings are now at 17,000 ft. deep to access the natural gas deposit but it is believed that if drilling is extended to 24,000 ft., it can access to the 600 million barrels (1 barrel is 159 liters) of crude oil, which, of course, settles below the natural gas deposit.

By the way, when extracting natural gas, light distillates called straight run gasoline accompanies the gas and this bonus in the extraction undergo minor processing in the refinery, then sold as motor gasoline. Assuming 0.01% by volume of the natural gas extracted is the light liquid portion, then for the recoverable of 620 billion cubic meter natural gas, about 390 million barrels of gasoline like fuel is realized.

Production of natural gas from the Leviathan field started last December 31, 2019. There are now four production wells operated by Noble Energy of Texas (which owns 40% of the project) connected by two 8-inch pipelines (73 miles subsea) that tie backs to a gas processing platform located 10 km. off the shore of Dor.

The processing platform has the capacity to handle 12 billion cubic meter per year (bcmy) and could be expanded to 21 bcmy. Neighboring Jordan through the Jordan National Electric Company (NEPCO) is now buying 20 percent of its power requirement from Israel. This is a $10 billion deal to provide Jordan with 45 billion cum gas in the next 15 years. With Egypt, it is a $15 billion agreement to supply Egypt with natural gas for 10 years.

As the new natural gas giant, Israel is now embarking on a very ambitious and grandiose but also very dangerous plan (which many believe will result to a new war in the Middle East) to bring  its natural gas to energy-starved Europe!

Last January 2020 Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy signed a consortium agreement to build the largest and longest submarine pipeline in the world to transport gas from the Mediterranean to Europe. The EastMed pipeline is projected to travel from Israel to Cyprus, to Greece and ultimately to Italy. Gas export to European countries from the Leviathan facility is expected to provide about 10 percent of their natural gas requirements and reduce their dependence on a joint Russia and Turkey pipeline which presently supplies 40% of Europe natural gas needs.

During the settlement of the 1974 war between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus, which eventually resulted in dividing Cyprus between the two countries, one of the agreements was the “equal claims to discoveries” clause for gas and oil in the Mediterranean Sea. Ankara is now accusing Israel and Greece of violating this provision and so, is also drilling on its own in the disputed area. Considering the massive deposit of natural gas that are ready to fuel struggling European markets, it is certain that the Mediterranean natural gas will eventually become a major source of political disputes, if not a major war in Middle East.

Bible scholar Don Stewart interpreted the prophecy in the book of Ezekiel in 580 BC. In Chapter 37 to 39, Ezekiel prophesied that the Israelite will be returned to their homeland, (the UN 1948 mandate), that it will increase its borders to include the “mountains of Israel”, (the area provided by the UN mandate was only 5,500 square miles but increased 100 fold after the 1948 war of independence, the 6 days war in 1967 where they seized Jerusalem, West Bank, Sinai Desert and Golan Heights).

That upon returning to a desolate land (swamps and desert), they will make it to  prosper (draining the swamp and irrigating the desert resulting in the best farm industry in the Middle East, the Leviathan gas fields, 8th most powerful country in the world, 5th in technology, GDP of $387 billion, $48,823 GDP/capita).

That at the end times Israel will be invaded by Russia, Turkey and Iran (Russia is now massing its army and air force in Turkey and Syria) and the United States will NOT come to aid Israel. Are we seeing the unfolding of events that will fulfill the Bible prophecy? Only the events will teach us in its hour.