The government has approved a proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
to construct four natural gas
collection and processing facilities – two on land and two offshore – by the end of 2013.
The plan presents a tight schedule for the plants' construction. All entities involved in the program will be required to work faster than they normally would on such projects.
"The discoveries of offshore natural gas
reserves belong to (Israel)
and it is crucial that the Israeli people benefit from them…. Economic growth will result from using these discoveries and they can't be delayed," Netanyahu said.
Protesting a planned gas plant at the Carmel Beach (Photo: Roni Azrieli)
Netanyahu has instructed Prime Minister's Office General-Director Harel Locker to offer incentives to heads of localities that agree to host the gas processing facilities. The incentives would come in the form of "supplementary development" – budgets and relaxed permit processes fro building parks, paths, and roads.
Netanyahu's proposal came in response to what the government has recently begun to refer to as "one of the saddest mistakes in the history of the state" – namely, the government not authorizing a gas collection facility at the Dor Beach
due to local residents' opposition.
Currently, Israel has two gas processing facilities, one in Ashkelon – which until recently received gas from Egypt – and a second in Ashdod, which collects gas from Israel's own Yam Tethys
reserve. If the Dor Beach plant had been constructed, it would have taken in gas from the Tamar
The natural gas collected in the plants is cleaned of foreign matter and its pressure is lowered. Generally speaking, the longer gas has to travel through pipes to reach its destination, the greater the chance that it will collect impurities and become unusable. Therefore, the plants should optimally be constructed as close as possible to power plants.
The government has asked architects to draw up a number of options for possible locations for the gas collection plants.
All plans must place the facilities in proximity to the following: a major energy user, such as a large factory or power plants; a valve that would protect the beaches, such valves exist in Ashkelon, Reading, Hadera, Dor, and Haifa Bay; and gas conduits.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report