Technical snafu leaves Israel without natural gas supply

10:49, March 07, 2011      

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Israel's natural gas supply was cut off on Saturday due to a technical problem, according to officials.

The unspecified breakdown occurred after what officials described as routine maintenance on the Yam Tethys rig, moored off the coast of Ashkelon. The problem was to have been fixed by Saturday night. Yam Tethys has been in operation since 2004, and its flow is expected to last until 2014.

Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) power stations switched over to diesel and oil for the interim. It is unclear at this stage if the flow has been restored.

Israel's other natural gas supplier is Egypt. However, a sabotage attack on the El Arish pumping station in the northern Sinai on Feb. 5 stopped the flow. Despite reports that the pumping station was being repaired, it is unclear when or if that supply will be reestablished.

The East Mediterranean Gas Company operates the pipeline, and its shareholders have asked the U.S., Thailand, European leaders to push Egypt to restart the flow, according to the Israeli Globes business news site.

Egypt supplied Israel with some 40 percent of its natural gas supply, as per the 1978 Camp David Accords. However, the downfall of the Mubarak regime may endanger that agreement, which was to have provided Israel with 1.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually for more than decade and half.

Israel's Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau on Feb. 6, a day after the blast, said the explosion proved that the nation must " do everything to improve Israel's energy security."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have said that the cutoff would only have a limited effect on the nation's power-generating abilities, since Israel has coal, oil and diesel reserves on hand to operate its power stations.

"There is no concern of a disruption in electricity in Israel, even if gas deliveries from Egypt are halted completely," IEC Vice President Moshe Bachar said.

"It takes us about an hour to switch production from natural gas to alternatives, such as coal, heavy industrial oil, and diesel," Bachar told Israeli Army radio in a interview after the attack.

Source: Xinhua

 
 
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