Israel, Russia and the Leviathan Gas Field

As you can read at the following World Tribune article, Israel’s supreme court rejected the contract  between Israel and the American energy company Noble Energy about the Leviathan gas field. Leviathan is the largest Israeli gas field.

The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is supposedly disappointed with the court’s ruling. But I think the court ruling is very convenient for the Israeli foreign policy even though it is not convenient for the American company which is very upset.



Only Turkey and Egypt can import large amounts of Israeli gas. The other option would be Europe, but you need LNG facilities that Israel does not possess. Moreover both Turkey and Russia would be very upset with Israel if it was to send gas to Europe, bypassing Turkey and antagonizing Russia in the European markets.

Egypt was the best option for Israel, because Russia does not export gas to Egypt, and Israel gave Gazprom large stakes in its second largest gas field, the Tamar. Israel was also willing to give Gazprom stakes in Leviathan. Therefore the Israelis, the Russians and Noble would all together export to Egypt. That was the plan. And Noble would be happy to have Gazprom in order to protect the project from Hezbollah and Turkey.

Natural Gas Israel.JPG


But now Egypt has discovered the Zohr field (August 2015), which is the largest gas field of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Therefore Turkey seems to be the best option, if not the only one. But that would upset Russia, because the Leviathan gas will start flowing in 2019, and in 2020 the contract between Russia and Turkey for the Blue Stream is expiring. Therefore Turkey could start importing gas from Israel and dump Russia’s Blue Stream gas (16 billion cubic meters annually).

The court ruling seems to be convenient for Israel, because for Israel it is a lot more important that the Russians do not use the S-400 anti-aircraft missiles they have in Syria to prevent the Israelis from attacking the Iranians in Syria, when the Iranians send weapons to Hezbollah in South Lebanon. How much would the Israelis earn by selling 10 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey? Would it worth the risk with Hezbollah, at a time the United States are improving their relations with Iran?

Israel is hoping that Turkey and Russia will sort things out, and Israel and Russia will jointly export natural gas to Turkey.

Israel Turkey.JPG

For the expiring contract for the Blue Stream between Russia and Turkey see Al Monitor.

“How the PKK is Entering Energy Wars”, Μάρτιος 2016

5th Paragraph

That timing would be perfect, as some of Turkey’s major gas contracts with Russia expire in 2020, including the Blue Stream deal for 16 billion cubic meters, and half of the western route contracts that cover 4 billion cubic meters. In short, if everything goes as planned, Ankara hopes to get rid of Putin’s noose in several years.

“Israel Court ruling seen as threat to U.S. energy firm”, Μάρτιος 2016

2nd Paragraph

The ruling was a major setback for U.S.-based Noble Energy, which could delay the firm’s $6 billion natural gas project off the coast of Israel for as much as a year. The project was expected to start up in 2019.

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