Israel declares victory with new gas field

Jan. 7, 2011 at 7:10 AM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A major natural gas discovery off the coast of Israel changes the natural resources dynamics of the Middle East significantly, a political analyst said.

Israel heralded a change in its energy sector last week with the announcement that the Leviathan natural gas field off the coast of Haifa holds at least 18 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Israel had depended on Egypt and other regional energy giants for natural gas, though analysts said Leviathan and last year's gas find at the Tamar field changes the game for Israel.

"Israel has always been seen as a desert country that scratches out a living first by agriculture and then by high tech but never an economic powerhouse and always dependent on outside sources for energy," Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar Ilan University, told The Christian Science Monitor. "This changes those conditions significantly."

There is enough gas in Leviathan and Tamar to meet Israel's demand for energy. Yitzhak Tshuva, the owner of Israeli energy company and Leviathan co-owner Delek Energy, was quoted as saying Leviathan made Israel "an energy independent country."

Lebanon, however, holds that Leviathan extends into its territory and Hezbollah, Lebanese political party and paramilitary group, warned Israel to keep away from the gas reserves.

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