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Israel Increases Natural Gas Production

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Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (left) speaks as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) and Noble Energy's Vice President for Major Projects George Hatfield (right) stand by during the inauguration of the newly-arrived foundation platform for the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. | Image by Marc Israel Sellem, AFP via Foreign Policy

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Facing the looming prospect of natural gas shortages across Europe this winter, Israel has cranked up production in its natural gas fields with the expectation of increasing exports to neighboring countries. Israel, Egypt, and the EU signed a trilateral agreement in June to increase natural gas supplies from Israel to the continent, reported Markets Insider.

Israel’s natural gas production increased by 22% in the first half of the year, according to Markets Insider. Royalties from gas, minerals, and fees increased 48% to roughly $253 million.

Israel’s gas production hit 10.85 billion cubic meters through June of this year, and production will continue to increase, according to Energy Minister Karine Elharrar. Exports of natural gas jumped 35%.

As a result of Russia’s restrictions on natural gas exports to Europe, member countries have had to rely more on alternative supplies. The supply shortage has caused prices to jump dramatically. Since the beginning of June, Dutch TTF gas futures, Europe’s benchmark gas price, have risen 220%, according to Markets Insider.

Israel has discovered several natural gas fields in recent years, like the Tamar and Leviathan fields in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel. 

The head of the Iranian-proxy terrorist group Hezbollah claims that one such gas field, the Karish, crosses into Lebanon’s territorial waters and has threatened Israel with an “escalation” if the country does not cease its operations there, the Jewish Press reported.

However, those threats are unnecessary, according to a report published last week in the al-Ahkbar newspaper, which stated that Israel and Lebanon have already reached an agreement concerning the maritime border demarcation.

Israel is demanding a guarantee that Hezbollah will not attack the Karish oil field, where a drilling rig was erected earlier this summer. 

Meanwhile, Norway has also upped its natural gas production, surpassing Russia as the largest natural gas supplier to Europe, reported Reuters. Its gas production is expected to increase by 8% this year, setting a new high for the Nordic country.

“I expect that we can maintain the production levels we are at now until 2030,” Norway’s energy minister said.

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