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The European Union is in talks with Israel to start importing Israeli natural gas that would be liquefied at an Egyptian facility, Bloomberg has reported, citing documents.
Israel has abundant offshore natural gas reserves and has been looking to expand its international presence in the gas market. Over the next two years, Israel plans to double its current production rate to some 40 billion cu m, with Europe the most logical expansion target, according to reports from earlier this year.
"The hope is to create a relatively fast working process and already during the summer to reach a framework agreement," Lior Schillat, the director-general of Israel's Energy Ministry, said earlier this month, as quoted by Reuters.
This week, the Israeli Energy Ministry announced it was in talks with the European Union, following a March meeting between Energy Minister Karine Elharrar and the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson.
According to an Israeli Energy Ministry spokesman, the EU representatives at that meeting had told the Israeli side that if they could not find sufficient amounts of natural gas to replace Russian deliveries, "they would return to coal mining, despite the great environmental damage caused by it."
Israel's proven gas reserves stood at 921 billion cubic meters before the latest discovery, made by British Energean, which found an estimated 60 billion cubic meters of gas in an offshore block. Domestic consumption, on the other hand, is not expected to exceed 500 billion cubic meters over the next 25 years, Al-Monitor reported last week.
In any case, Israeli gas will not start flowing this year, which would mean the EU would need to look elsewhere for urgent replacements for Russian gas. According to the energy ministry's Schillat, the earliest time when Israel would be able to start delivering gas to Europe via Egypt would be 2024.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.