Blue Stream may extend to Israel, Lebanon

Feb. 20, 2006 at 7:34 AM
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JERUSALEM, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Israel is likely to shortly complete studies on the cost of extending a natural gas pipeline from Turkey to Israel, the Platts International Gas Report said.

Earlier this month, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler announced the plan to extend the Blue Stream pipeline, which originates in Russia and runs under the Black Sea, was already in motion, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported.

The Blue Stream is the world's deepest undersea pipeline, and has been operating for two years. It is also slated to reach Lebanon, according to the Hurriyet report.

"We consider Turkey as a reliable partner to transit gas to third countries," the newspaper quoted Alexei Miller, CEO of Russian Blue Stream operator Gazprom, as saying.

Platts quoted a senior official in Israel's Ministry of National Infrastructures as saying: "Israel formally requested the extension of the pipeline last October," as part of then-minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer's official visit to Ankara, "and this will lead to more suppliers and greater competition (in the domestic market)."

Even if the deal goes through within two months as expected, the section of the pipeline reaching Israel won't be on-line until at least 2011, at which time Israel's natural gas demand is predicted to reach 10 billion cubic meters per year, the gas report said.

According to the latest data available from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, the country's total consumption of natural gas in 2004 was just over 8 million cubic meters.

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