Long thought as a Middle Eastern country without energy resources, Israel has had several significant
natural gas finds off the Mediterranean coast over the last several years. These new, potentially
game-changing discoveries were the topic of discussion at an afternoon panel at the Fifth Annual Israeli
Participants in the panel, entitled “The Land of Milk and Honey… and Natural Gas – Challenges and Opportunities,”
and moderated by Eliezer Sandberg, World Chairman of Keren Hayesod/United Israel Appeal, were
former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, international security expert Edward Chow,
Professor Brenda Shaffer of Georgetown University, Hebrew University Professor Emeritus Eytan Sheshinski,
and Gideon Tadmor, CEO of Avner Oil and Chairman of Delek Drilling.
The session dealt with key issues such as preparing for future generations, turning natural gas
into meaningful revenue and the significant difference between gas and oil exploitation.
“Whereas oil is like dating,” said Chow, “the gas business is like having a marriage – it really is a long-term business.”
Most on the panel were bullish on Israel’s opportunity with natural gas, but Shaffer cautioned against unrealistic
expectations, pointing out that Israel’s current located natural gas resources are just a fraction of the natural gas
reserves for countries such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Shaffer also pointed out that Israel does not have a strong history of competition, meaning that it may be a challenge
for consumers to see a significant benefit from these recent finds.
“We don’t even have competition between banks,” said Shaffer. “How are we going to have competition
between two gas companies?”
Tadmor, who was referred to as the true pioneer of natural gas in Israel, said the facts on the ground
told a different story than what Shaffer was outlining, and offered hope.
“We are being approached by so many players in neighboring countries,and we see the contribution of natural gas
to Israel(‘s economy), and we see a new industry that has emerged in Israel,” said Tadmor. “I think that all of those
and other elements not only bring a lot of
hope, but will materialize – in reality – in a lot of benefits for the State of Israel.”
Facing Tomorrow 2013 is taking place from June 18-20, 2013, at Jerusalem's International Convention Center.
The conference isorganized in partnership with Hebrew University.