At a recent gathering of business and energy leaders, experts discussed the need for Israel to emerge from its “energy island,” and embrace the changing energy climate.
During the Israel Business Conference, speakers from France and the United States discussed the potential for Israel to become one of the key players in the new world energy market.
Dr. Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency in Paris, encouraged Israel to look beyond domestic borders when devising an energy plan.
“Israel is going through a very important time of understanding energy markets in the country and in the region,” Birol said. “Israel is not an energy island. Israel cannot stay an energy island.”
Pointing out the findings of the World Energy Outlook 2013, Birol noted that “the energy game” is changing players very quickly, with new export leaders emerging and some countries that previously relied heavily on exports turning to domestic resources to meet their energy needs.
“Today, the job descriptions of these players are being rewritten and redefined,” he said.
During the past year, America and Brazil have been utilizing domestic deep-water oil resources, lessening their reliance on Middle East oil and in some cases turning former export nations into import consumers.
This changing dynamic, Birol added, is the only way that the current way the world trades energy will be re-imagined in the coming years.
“The Middle East is and will remain critical to the global oil market despite what is happening in the United States,” Birol said. “I believe that it is not right to say that what happened in the United States makes the Middle East an unimportant player. We will need Middle East oil to match the growth in Asia.”
Israel also holds great potential to become a primary player in the global energy market, according to Keith Elliott, senior vice president for Noble Energy. Currently, Israel is extracting off-shore reserves at the Tamar site, primarily for domestic use. The opening of a second site, Leviathan, in 2017, will dramatically increase Israel’s energy power and potentially turn the country into exporters and key players in the world market.
“We see the development of Leviathan to be equally critical to the state as the development of Tamar, perhaps even more so,” Elliott said. “The development of Leviathan is something that goes beyond just providing fuel to Israel. Leviathan can provide fuel to regional players [and] neighboring countries.”