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Israel Shut Down Its Only Natural Gas Field Amid Rocket Fire From Gaza

Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz ordered on Sunday that the country’s only operating natural gas field, the offshore Tamar field, be closed as a precaution after violence between militants in the Gaza Strip and Israel flared up at the end of last week.  

The natural gas from the Tamar field is being pumped by a subsea pipeline from a rig which is within the range of some the hundreds of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel over the past few days.  

The temporary closure of the Tamar field put Israel’s energy supply into an emergency mode, as power plants need to use alternatives to the natural gas they receive from the field to keep operating, according to The Times of Israel. The power plants will be burning diesel, coal, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a ship anchored in Israel’s north.

The emergency energy situation was initially expected to last a week, The Times of Israel reported on Sunday, citing Hebrew-language business daily The Marker.

The latest flare-up between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip saw some of the worst fighting in years, according to The Wall Street Journal. More than 600 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip to Israel, which in turn responded with strikes on military targets in the Gaza Strip. Lives were lost on both sides, including civilians, at the peak of the fighting on Sunday.

Early on Monday, Palestinian militants said that they had agreed a ceasefire with Israel, after a weekend of heightened hostilities which killed at least four Israelis and 25 Palestinians.

Israel’s energy ministry said on Monday that the Tamar gas field would resume operations after the ceasefire was agreed, and that energy minister Steinitz had instructed Noble Energy, the Texas-based operator of the field, to prepare to restart pumping natural gas.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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