Nehemia Shtrasler. Aug 17, 2023

After a short break, the cult of natural gas charlatans returned this week to troll the people of Israel with a new scare: The gas is dwindling, and will run out entirely within a few years. When that happens, electricity prices will soar, air pollution will increase and our energy security will disappear. All this commotion is happening because the operators of the Leviathan and Tamar offshore natural gas fields announced that they want to do something terrible: increase exports. Once upon a time, “exports” was a positive word. Today, the sect of gas charlatans is trying to make it negative.

A natural gas drilling rig.
A natural gas drilling rig.Credit: Bloomberg

For the past 13 years, the gas charlatans’ cult has done everything to keep the gas deep underground. It did this by spreading hair-raising lies and filing countless High Court of Justice petitions that delayed the project and caused tremendous harm. They said that production was economically unviable, and the cult’s high priestess, the erstwhile opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich – a global expert in gas exploration, of course – stated authoritatively: “The Leviathan field will not be developed. … There will be no [gas] exports to Egypt. … It would be best to leave the gas in the ground.” Fortunately for us, Leviathan was developed and is supplying gas to Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

The cult’s aim in leaving the gas deep in the ground was to wait until it became an irrelevant, nearly worthless, energy source, which should happen in about 25 years, when the world’s energy sources will be sun, wind and water. That’s why we should do the exact opposite: Hurry up and sell as much as possible today. The cult members also claimed that natural gas prices in Israel are too high, but in fact they were lower than in Europe, and electricity prices in Israel today are half those of Europe. The cult even claimed that the gas was polluting, but it turned out that air pollution was reduced by 80 percent! Greenhouse gas emissions also declined. In short, everything they claimed was one big lie.

Now, in a last-ditch effort to rescue their dignity, they are fighting against increasing exports. The cabinet resolution on the issue states that Israel should reserve 500 billion cubic meters of natural gas for itself for the next 25 years, until 2048, and export the rest. If you take the future exports to Jordan and Egypt and add them to the new exports requested by Leviathan and Tamar, it becomes clear that more than 500 billion cubic meters will remain for Israel – and that’s without taking into account the huge quantities of gas that are still in the Mediterranean Sea, waiting to be discovered and developed. So where exactly is the problem?

Leviathan’s owners want what every entrepreneur wants: to increase sales and profit, which drives and improves the economy. Toward that end, they plan to invest $7.5 billion (!) in a liquefaction facility, in digging gas wells, in equipment and in piping. Once, such big investors, who provided jobs, would have been praised. Today, in the general insanity of the cult, they are pilloried.

The advantage of an Israeli liquefaction facility is in reducing the high commissions charged by Egypt. They buy gas from us, liquefy it and sell it at a high price in Europe. It is also clear that exporting to Turkey will greatly improve political relations with it, as well as with Europe. And as soon as the world realizes that we’re not a crazy country that prevents exports, huge international companies will come here and invest billions in additional offshore exploration, and then exports will increase even more, and with it, Israel’s tax revenues.

But the cult of natural gas charlatans is not swayed by facts. Its members are not willing to admit their enormous errors over the course of 13 years. Now they want to eliminate the entire project by prohibiting the increase in exports, but you’d have to be completely insane to leave such a treasure in the bowels of the earth, when it’s in high demand and at a good price. In any case, they need to chill. No shortage of gas is anticipated, neither today nor in the future. The cult’s scare tactics are utter nonsense.