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Israel Energy Minister Says Gas From New Rig Now Flowing to Jordan

Israel has signed a natural gas export contract with Egypt. FILE PHOTO
Israel has signed a natural gas export contract with Egypt. FILE PHOTO

Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on January 1 said natural gas from an offshore rig of the Leviathan field which went online on the last day of 2019 is now flowing to Jordan.

An Israeli firm began exporting natural gas to Jordan in 2017 for the first time. Leviathan is expected to provide a significantly greater amount.

Israel's gas fields in the Mediterranean were only discovered a few years ago near Lebanon.

“Israel is becoming an energy exporter for the first time in its history,” The Times of Israel ​ reported Steinitz as saying.

Steintz said gas is also expected to begin flowing to Egypt in the next week to 10 days. Israel which for many years imported gas from Egypt, has recently signed a huge contract for exporting gas to Egypt.

Israel started pumping gas from its gas field in the Mediterranean Sea to its coastal rig only a day before starting gas export to Jordan. The country has made extensive plans for exporting to Europe through the pipeline shared with Cyprus and Greece.

Natural gas production in Israel's gas fields entails high-security arrangements due to Israel's concerns about what it calls "Hezbollah threats".

Last week major Italian companies announced that they would participate in a joint project with Israel that can bear important effects in providing natural gas to European countries and reduce their reliance on Russia.

The Netanyahu administration also hopes that its gas exports help improve its relations with Arab countries as well as to make these relations more public.

The Israeli energy minister also dismissed concerns that tests yesterday at the gas rig indicated there would be a spike in air pollution, calling it “a completely baseless, unnecessary hysteria”.

Steinitz argued that there would ultimately be an improvement in air quality, as the natural gas will allow Israel to shutter coal-fired power plants in Hadera and Ashkelon.

Environment activists in Israel have always criticized the Netanyahu government's insistence on extracting fossil fuel instead of investing in renewable energy sources.