Comptroller Lambastes State Gas Policy

YERUSHALAYIM -

With the government’s natural gas policy still in regulatory limbo, Comptroller Yosef Shapira weighed in on Monday with a scathing critique of its handling of the issue.

The report, which came out just two days before a crucial Knesset vote, condemned the government for allowing a monopoly situation to take hold in Israel’s huge offshore gas fields and making virtually no provision for price regulation.

“This audit indicates that the government’s conduct on natural gas production was poor and incohesive, and contributed to the creation of a monopoly in that market,” the report said.

The comptroller’s office faulted the state on four major points: the establishment of a monopoly; that until other reserves are developed, the Tamar reservoir is the country’s single source of natural gas; that “there is only one working pipeline with a limited output,” and the lack of storage facilities, which, if not corrected, means “Israel will have no backup supply of natural gas.”

The comptroller called on the government to set up a mechanism that would coordinate regulation with the private sector.

In response, the Energy Ministry said “that the solution to the deficiencies indicated by the comptroller lies in the concentration of powers within a central regulator, the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry,” which will remedy the current regulatory disarray.