EMGC ’14: Israeli, Cypriot gas leaders target market flexibility, logistics expansion

Managing Editor

TEL AVIV, Israel -- The final session of Gulf Publishing Company's second annual Eastern Mediterranean Gas Conference (EMGC) looked toward the future of the region—specifically the economic impact of the new hydrocarbon resources. The session was chaired by Vice President of Global Gas Marketing for ABS, William J. Sember.

Pipeline export options. David Aron, managing director of Petroleum Development Consultants, noted that, presently, regional gas pipelines link Egypt to Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. An extension of the pipeline to Turkey is planned, but this project has only been halfway completed. 

The potential to use gas for power generation is very high throughout the region, particularly in Lebanon and Jordan. This need is a major motivating factor for pipeline exports of gas from Israel. 

Mr. Aron examined the feasibility of export options via pipeline and LNG exports from Israel to Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian National Authority and Turkey. He noted that improving political relations between Israel and Turkey could increase the possibility of a pipeline link between the two countries, although he cautioned that exports to Turkey are unlikely to begin before 2030 for commercial reasons (i.e., oversupply), rather than because of technical or political issues. 

Mr. Aron sees Jordan as the largest immediate market for Israeli gas, with exports from the Tamar field commencing in 2016. Exports to the Palestinian National Authority from the Leviathan field could begin in 2017.

Next, Yaniv Friedman, the vice president of strategy at Anver Oil Exploration, shared an insightful overview of gas export options from a regional perspective.

Israeli and Cypriot perspectives. The following two presentations were given by Uri Aldubi, the chairman of the Association of Oil and Gas Exploration Industries in Israel and the founder and director of Israel Opportunity Oil and Gas Exploration Ltd.; and Stavros Spanos, the executive vice president of strategic marketing and partnerships at Hyperion Systems Engineering Group. 

The Israeli and Cypriot perspectives examined the regulatory, political, financial and logistical opportunities and challenges associated with ongoing and potential gas infrastructure projects in the region.

Mr. Spanos touted the merits of an LNG plant, as opposed to a pipeline to Turkey or Greece. A liquefaction facility would increase flexibility and create optionality in Cyprus' search for markets and customers, he said. 

A large portion of Cyprus' gas resources would be processed to create petrochemicals, which the country would sell at high prices to generate revenue for the country. Finally, Mr. Spanos stressed Cyprus' eagerness to cooperate with Israeli companies and government to help build Cyprus into the Mediterranean's premiere energy hub.

Noble Energy eyes jobs, technology growth in Eastern Med. Closing out EMGC 2014, Vice President of the Eastern Mediterranean for Noble Energy, Lawson Freeman (see photo), spoke about Israel's emerging energy industry and Noble's employment development plans for the region. 

Mr. Freeman called for additional engineers, technicians, programmers and coordinators for drilling and completions operations, and acknowledged Israel's high level of technology expertise. For gas processing operations, more engineers, operators, mechanical specialists and gas controllers are needed.

"If we can familiarize industry here [in Israel] with [Noble Energy's] specific needs and operations," Mr. Freeman said, then Israel's cutting-edge technology can be combined with US systems and Noble Energy-specific technologies to fast-track Eastern Mediterranean resource development into the future.

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