It’s a good thing Israel has a huge store of natural gas in its coastal waters; the demand for gas in Israel has outstripped demand in any other country over the past decade, according to an energy survey by British Petroleum (BP). The average annual growth in natural gas demand during the period 2005-2016 was 17.8 percent.
Demand during that period was relatively high in several European countries, including an average increase in demand in the U.K. of 12.2 percent, 8.9 percent in Germany, and 6.9 percent in Holland. In Russia, which also has large stores of natural gas, demand was down 8 percent.
The natural gas revolution in Israel began in 2004, with the discovery of the Yam Thetis gas reserve. Demand in that year was 1.19 billion cubic meters (BCM) of gas; by 2016, that had increased to 9.7 BCM. The demand, said Amir Foster, director of the Israel Union of Natural Gas and Oil Explorers, provided an incentive to search for more gas, and to develop the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields.
Now that Israel is a major gas power and consumer, Foster told Yisrael Hayom, it needs to take the issue of gas more seriously than in the past. “We need to improve infrastructure for delivery, and if we do not, the growth rate in gas use will fall off,” he said. “The increase in gas use was the direct result of the development of the Tamar gas field. With that, the regulatory issues and lack of clarity on tax and other policies has hampered the development of the Leviathan field. As a result, we do not see demand expanding as quickly in the next few years as it has in the past decade.”