The Sinai natural gas pipeline explosion over the weekend that caused Egypt to temporarily suspend the flow of the fuel to Israel, which relies on it for as much as one-fourth of its electricity, was the result of a terrorist incident, an Egyptian investigator concluded today (the head of Egypt’s natural gas company had asserted the incident was related to a leak).
Increased uncertainty for Israel’s energy situation is one of the less heralded but still important consequences of the Egyptian unrest. In response, Israel is speeding up exploration of its massive new offshore natural gas fields (which Lebanon has bellicosely contested); considering increasing quantities from its fields in the south; and even exploring the production of fossil fuel from shale. Perhaps most remarkably, Prime Minister Netanyahu, couching his proposal in the language of Palestinian economic improvement, suggested commencing talks with Palestinian negotiators about developing an offshore field off Gaza’s coast. Of course, given that Gaza is ruled by folks whom Netanyahu doesn’t (publicly) talk to, this proposition may prove tricky.
So already you can begin to grasp the potential consequences of what’s going on in Egypt—increased Israeli desperation? further Lebanese tensions over the offshore fields? rapprochement, or the reverse, with Hamas driven by mutual economic and energy interests? a shaky situation in Jordan turned shakier by energy shortages (Jordan also relies on Egyptian natural gas)? And all this merely in the less obvious dimension of energy. This is what people mean when they describe the remarkable past weeks as “an earthquake.”
Gas Pipeline Explosion Was Terror Related, Probe Finds [JTA]
Natural Gas Supply to Israel Cut Off After Blast at Egyptian Terminal [WP]
Israel: A Controversial Shale Project and Energy Security [Babylon & Beyond]
Israeli Leaders Suggests Palestinian Gas Talks [WSJ]
Earlier: Lebanon Passes Oil Law