Turkish minister to visit Israel to discuss gas pipeline

Yuval Steinitz

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz met Turkish Minister of Energy and National Resources Berat Albayrak in Istanbul.

Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz and Turkish Minister of Energy and National Resources Berat Albayrak have agreed that Albayrak will visit Israel for a professional visit this year. The Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources added that the two ministers, who met today at the 22nd World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul, had agreed to expedite a framework agreement between their countries that would make it possible to lay a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey.

A framework agreement is needed in order to hedge the business risks against a worsening of relations between Israel and Turkey. In a meeting between Steinitz and Albayrak in October, they agreed that they would try to reach a framework agreement by April this year, but did not commit to doing so. In March, Steinitz said that he believed that a bilateral agreement could be signed during the summer.

Turkey is the best market for Israeli gas exports, because the project is economically feasible, and Turkey needs Israeli gas for two reasons. One is the increase in its domestic demand for natural gas from 35 BCM in 2010 to a projected 50 BCM in 2017, and the other is a desire to decrease Turkey's dependence on Russia, which supplies 60% of the natural gas consumed in Turkey.

Indian energy minister

Another meeting held by Steinitz in Turkey was with Indian Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan. The Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources said that Pradhan had "notified" Steinitz that Indian energy companies would participate in its competitive process for oil and gas exploration. At this stage, the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources has not confirmed that its announcement was based on purchase of the tender documents by Indian companies.

The oil and gas exploration tender was launched at a press conference last November, at which Steinitz, Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources director general Shaul Meridor, and Director of Natural Resources Administration & Petroleum Commissioner Yossi Wurzburger announced the opening of 24 marine blocks for exploration. The blocks are located at least seven kilometers from the shore, and have an average size of 400 square kilometers.

The original deadline for bids in the tender was April, but Steinitz announced in February that it would be postponed until July, following many requests for more information for the purpose of perusing the technical details. The actual number of companies planning to participate in the tender is believed to be 1-3, and the deadline for submitting bids was accordingly postponed again, this time until November in order to enable the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources to persuade more companies to participate.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on July 12, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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Yuval Steinitz
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