Israel announced on Saturday it had begun delivering gas from a major northern offshore drill toward its shores, a move officials say will diminish the Jewish state’s dependency on foreign gas imports.
A statement from the energy and water ministry said that on Saturday afternoon “natural gas has begun being moved from the Tamar reservoir to a new naval production raft across from Ashdod, from where it will within 24 hours reach an absorption station in Ashdod,” a city in southern Israel.
Tamar, which has reserves of up to 238 billion cubic metres (8.4 trillion cubic feet), lies 130 kilometres (81 miles) off the Mediterranean port city of Haifa.
Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom said the event marked “an energy independence day for Israel.”
“This breakthrough is a bellwether of the entry of additional private companies for Israel’s energetic freedom,” he said in a statement.
Tamar, which was discovered in 2009, is jointly owned by American company Nobel Energy and three Israeli firms — Delek, Isramco and Dor Alon.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement the event marked “an important day for Israel’s economy” which would benefit the citizens.
Israel generates approximately 40 percent of its electricity from natural gas and until 2011, Egypt provided 43 percent of its gas supplies.
In the absence of Egyptian gas, Israel has been pushing for the speedy exploitation of several recently-discovered gas fields off its northern coast.
The pipeline from Egypt supplying Israel and Jordan, which crosses the troubled Sinai peninsula, has been hit by bomb attacks time and again since the uprising which toppled Mubarak in February 2011.