Expert: Israel not yet energy player

March 19, 2012 at 9:47 AM

BEERSHEBA, Israel, March 19 (UPI) -- Despite the discovery of vast natural gas reserves off the coast of Israel, an analyst said at an energy conference the country isn't yet a global player.

Shlomo Wald, a chief scientist at the Israeli Energy and Water Ministry, told delegates at Ben-Gurion University that Israel was facing a "new era" where it wouldn't be completely dependent on imports to meet its energy demands, The Jerusalem Post reports.

Major natural gas discoveries at the Tamar and Leviathan offshore fields have redefined the Israeli energy sector. Israel gets some of its electricity from gas supplied through Egyptian pipelines, though officials have said Israel must find ways to become self-sufficient in energy.

Wald said there was an estimated 26.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas available in those basins but, overall, the country isn't yet a major energy player.

To protect itself, he said, the country should hold off on examining energy export markets.

"If we do not export, we should at least have a time to develop industry and get some security of supply for half a century," he said.

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