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Israel orders shutdown of key gas field as war rages

Israel orders shutdown of key gas field as war rages
The Tamar drilling natural gas production platform in Israel.

Israel ordered the shutdown of a major gas field run by Chevron in the eastern Mediterranean, citing safety concerns as fighting between Hamas and the Israeli military rages for a third day. 

“Due to the situation, the security establishment ordered to temporarily stop the supply of natural gas from the Tamar reservoir,” the nation’s energy ministry said in a statement. 

Gas discoveries in Israel over the past two decades have transformed the nation’s economy, and the shutdown of the field — 80km west of Haifa — threatens its plans to become a major regional supplier. Israel in August said it would export more gas to Egypt from the project amid strengthening ties with its neighbour.

Some of the supply to Egypt goes on to Europe, where buyers are increasingly reliant on alternatives to Russian pipeline flows. In the short term, the field’s stoppage may result in lower onward shipments, or even delays. Gas prices in Europe surged as much as 14%.

Chevron has been looking at how to expand output in Israel and supply the fuel to neighbouring markets or convert it into LNG for Europe, including the possibility of a floating plant. 

Saturday’s surprise attacks by Hamas — and Israel’s subsequent response — raise questions about the future security of the region. The combined death toll in the conflict is already at more than 1,100 as the fighting continues.

“Our top priority is the safety of our personnel, the communities in which we operate, the environment and our facilities,” Chevron said in an emailed statement. The company is still supplying customers in Israel and the region from another major project called Leviathan, it said. 

Tamar’s gas is produced from six wells, with output from each at about 7.1 million to 8.5 million cubic metres a day, according to Chevron’s website.


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