Israeli Lawmakers Scramble as “Supergiant” Gas Field Discovered Off Coast of Egypt

“Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” (Proverbs 21:20)

A “supergiant” natural gas field has been discovered off the coast of Egypt, the Italian energy company Eni announced Sunday, calling the find the “largest-ever” natural gas deposit the largest ever found in the Mediterranean Sea.

The discovery was made during Eni’s Zohr prospect “in the deep waters of Egypt.” It is believed that the gas field holds some 30 trillion cubic feet of gas over an area of 100 square kilometers (38.6 miles).

“Zohr is the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea and could become one of the world’s largest natural gas fields,” Eni said in a statement. “The discovery, after its full development, will be able to ensure satisfying Egypt’s natural gas demand for decades.”

Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi was quoted by Reuters as saying that the Zohr gas field “could become one of the world’s largest natural-gas finds.”

The Zohr field is almost double in size to Israel’s Leviathan gas field, which is estimated at 16 trillion cubic feet and was the largest natural gas deposit in the Mediterranean.

The discovery of the natural gas field has spurred Israeli lawmakers to finalize a stalled agreement on the country’s own gas reserves in the Mediterranean.

 
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The controversial deal, headed by American Noble Energy and Israel-based Delek Group, has faced heated opposition in the Knesset. Critics fear that the regulations surrounding the energy agreement would overly favor those companies involved in the deal, almost resembling a monopoly.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Photo: Olaf Kosinsky/ Wiki Commons)
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Photo: Olaf Kosinsky/ Wiki Commons)

“The discovery of the massive gas field in Egypt is a painful reminder that while Israel sleepwalks and dallies with the final approval for the gas road map, and delays further prospecting, the world is changing in front of us, including ramifications for export options,” Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said Sunday.

“We must pass the gas road map and forward the Israeli gas industry,” he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a proponent of the Noble-Delek agreement, maintains that the deal would pump billions of shekels into the Israeli economy. Earlier this month, the prime minister pushed the deal through his cabinet.

The Noble-Delek group has already been producing gas from Israeli fields since 2013, beginning with the Tamar field right off the Israeli coast. The two companies have also agreed to develop the Leviathan by 2019.

Earlier this year, stakeholders of the Tamar field agreed to sell Egypt five billion cubic meters of gas over the next three years. The gas will flow to Egypt through an old pipeline that used to supply Egyptian gas to Israel.