War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

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More than nine years ago, Israel invaded Gaza under “Operation Cast Lead”.

The following article was first published by Global Research in January 2009 at the height of the Israeli bombing and invasion under Operation Cast Lead.

In the wake of the invasion, Palestinian gas fields were de facto confiscated by Israel in derogation of international law.

A year following “Operation Cast Lead”,  Tel Aviv announced the discovery of  the Leviathan natural gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean “off the coast of Israel.”

At the time the gas field was: “ … the most prominent field ever found in the sub-explored area of the Levantine Basin, which covers about 83,000 square kilometres of the eastern Mediterranean region.” (i)

Coupled with Tamar field, in the same location, discovered in 2009, the prospects are for an energy bonanza for Israel, for Houston, Texas based Noble Energy and partners Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration. (See Felicity Arbuthnot, Israel: Gas, Oil and Trouble in the Levant, Global Research, December 30, 2013

The Gazan gas fields are part of the broader Levant assessment area.

What is now unfolding is the integration of these adjoining gas fields including those belonging to Palestine into the orbit of Israel. (see map below).

It should be noted that the entire Eastern Mediterranean coastline extending from Egypt’s Sinai to Syria constitutes an area encompassing large gas as well as oil reserves.

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

It is important to relate issue of Gaza’s offshore gas reserves to the recent massacres undertaken by IDF forces directed against the People of Palestine who own the offshore gas fields.

Michel Chossudovsky, June 12, 2018

***

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

by Michel Chossudovsky

January 8, 2009

The December 2008 military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves. 

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline. 

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21,  2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

Map 1

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

Map 2

Who Owns the Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” intimating that Gaza’s offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza’s offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)

The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert  “to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority.” The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, however, had no intention on sharing the revenues with Palestine. An Israeli team of negotiators was set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority:

Israeli defence authorities want the Palestinians to be paid in goods and services and insist that no money go to the Hamas-controlled Government.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The objective was essentially to nullify the contract signed in 1999 between the BG Group and the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Under the proposed 2007 agreement with BG, Palestinian gas from Gaza’s offshore wells was to be channeled by an undersea pipeline to the Israeli seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel.

The deal fell through. The negotiations were suspended:

 “Mossad Chief Meir Dagan opposed the transaction on security grounds, that the proceeds would fund terror”. (Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan, Address to the Knesset on “The Intention of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Purchase Gas from the Palestinians When Payment Will Serve Hamas,” March 1, 2006, quoted in Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza’s Coastal Waters Threaten Israel’s National Security?  Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 2007)

Israel’s intent was to foreclose the possibility that royalties be paid to the Palestinians. In December 2007, The BG Group withdrew from the negotiations with Israel and in January 2008 they closed their office in Israel.(BG website).

Invasion Plan on The Drawing Board

The invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under “Operation Cast Lead” was set in motion in June 2008, according to Israeli military sources:

“Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago [June or before June] , even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.”(Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

That very same month, the Israeli authorities contacted British Gas, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza’s natural gas:

“Both Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler agreed to inform BG of Israel’s wish to renew the talks.

The sources added that BG has not yet officially responded to Israel’s request, but that company executives would probably come to Israel in a few weeks to hold talks with government officials.” (Globes online- Israel’s Business Arena, June 23, 2008)

The decision to speed up negotiations with British Gas (BG Group) coincided, chronologically, with the planning of the invasion of Gaza initiated in June. It would appear that Israel was anxious to reach an agreement with the BG Group prior to the invasion, which was already in an advanced planning stage.

Moreover, these negotiations with British Gas were conducted by the Ehud Olmert government with the knowledge that a military invasion was on the drawing board. In all likelihood, a new “post war” political-territorial arrangement for the Gaza strip was also being contemplated by the Israeli government.

In fact, negotiations between British Gas and Israeli officials were ongoing in October 2008, 2-3 months prior to the commencement of the bombings on December 27th.

In November 2008, the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with British Gas, on the purchase of natural gas from the BG’s offshore concession in Gaza. (Globes, November 13, 2008)

“Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government’s decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.

The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago. The talks with BG Group will begin once the board approves the exemption from a tender.” (Globes Nov. 13, 2008)

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics 

The military occupation of Gaza is intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.

What can we expect in the wake of the invasion?

What is the intent of Israel with regard to Palestine’s Natural Gas reserves?

A new territorial arrangement, with the stationing of Israeli and/or “peacekeeping” troops?

The militarization of the entire Gaza coastline, which is strategic for Israel?

The outright confiscation of Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza’s maritime areas?

If this were to occur, the Gaza gas fields would be integrated into Israel’s offshore installations, which are contiguous to those of the Gaza Strip. (See Map 1 above).

These various offshore installations are also linked up to Israel’s energy transport corridor, extending from the port of Eilat, which is an oil pipeline terminal, on the Red Sea to the seaport – pipeline terminal at Ashkelon, and northwards to Haifa, and eventually linking up through a proposed Israeli-Turkish pipeline with the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Ceyhan is the terminal of the Baku, Tblisi Ceyhan Trans Caspian pipeline. “What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel’s Tipline.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

Map 3

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  • Allan Greedspoon

    Question: How was copper wire first invented?

    Answer: Two Zionists fighting over a penny

    The Zionazis will hold onto these oil and gas rich areas very tightly and they won’t relinquish them to the inhabitants of the Gaza concentration camps….EVER!

    • jako

      At least that is their plan….but than we all know old saying NEVER say “EVER”….

      All this gas fields are very good news for Syria. Because now Qatari or Iran’s pipelines through Syria are much less needed while they have “alternative gas” sources close to Europe.
      So much less interest of continuing this war forever for many actors in the conflict.

      • Bill Wilson

        The proposed Qatari pipeline was cancelled after the Saudis told Qatar to run it underwater to Iraq. Qatar never did any engineering studies to determine it’s cost if ran overland thru SA since they didn’t bother to ask SA if they could do that before making their grand announcement.
        Iraq has plenty of NG they’d like to export to Europe via a pipeline to the West. I’d doubt they’d allow a competitor (Iran) to run one of their own across Iraq.

        • jako

          Yet Qatar invested so much money to remove Assad.
          I didn’t know that Iraq also is big contender for pipeline. Didn’t know they had so much gas… First time I hear that actually.
          On gas Qatar is 2nd. behind Russia and Iran 3rd. – when it comes to gas resources . I always saw Iraq as oil – big player similar to Iran…Iraq has Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadar in power I doubt they would block Iran in anything…
          As long as Assad is there they can not block Iran and hope to pass their pipelines anyway.
          They all would like to export to EU the point is that these future gas fields are closer to EU then those in Iraq, Iran, Qatar so it should be cheaper to get the gas from Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus…

          • You can call me Al

            Iraq doesn’t have much gas – Bill is wrong.

          • jako

            Exactly what I was thinking…But that was very long time ago that I had info so I wasn’t sure enough to challenge his claim….
            Qatar is huge on gas just behind Russia and Iran with his “‘South Pars gas” sharing with Qatar is 2nd best.

          • You can call me Al

            I think Russia actually supplies gas to Iraq. South Pars = Iranian, North Field is Qatar… but same – same.

          • jako

            South Pars = Iranian
            I think (I might be wrong) that Qatar has also their share of South Pars because it is on the border between 2 countries.

          • You can call me Al

            I repeat – I think Russia actually supplies gas to Iraq. South Pars = Iranian, North Field is Qatar… but same – same”.

            You wrote “Qatar is huge on gas just behind Russia and Iran with his “‘South Pars gas” sharing with Qatar is 2nd best.”

            QATAR !!!!.

          • jako

            Listen I have lost record of what I have said already.
            So whatever you say is acceptable to me

          • You can call me Al

            Lol, no worries mate.

    • Bill Wilson

      Why should they? Hamas and Fatah wouldn’t be able to find any major offshore oil & gas companies willing to do business with them since those two are more unpredictable than the Israeli government.

      • jako

        Not true.
        Russian “Gazprom” is ideal for job. Palestinians respect Russians and vice versa and Israel would not dare to do any provocations against Russians.

    • hore ten

      I just had this thought but I’m almost positive russia,iran,turkey,syria,Lebanon,and Iraq will attack Israel when all the terrorist are defeated in Syria because the war they are all in is on terror and everyone knows that all the countries supporting terrorist in Syria is on behalf of Israel. Not that I’m against Israel because only Jesus can judge. But I had that thought especially because one of the Russian presidents things he goes by is keep your friends close but your enemies closer and he’s sure been very close to Israel. Everything God tells us in the bible is true. In the book of revelations He tells us about this upcoming war. The bible has never been wrong kjv. God bless all.

      • Omega

        Not that I’m against Israel because only Jesus can judge.

        Everything God tells us in the bible is true. In the book of revelations He tells us about this upcoming war. The bible has never been wrong kjv.

        Your likes, myth fed dimwits, are the cancer of this world.

    • Starlight

      Ah, the jews telling thickies that Israel is really all about ‘natural resources’- you just couldn’t make up this level of STUPIDITY.

      Here’s a clue for the clueless. The jews never want you knowing what the game is really about. The jews themselves have ALWAYS spread the idea of jews being money grabbing scrooges. It is called MISDIRECTION.

      The TRUE nature of world jewry can be understood in the sadistic demonic application of anti-human violence against the prisoners of the Gaza death camp. No nazi death camp of WW2 ever witnessed such brazen glorified horrors against the helpless by the state and its agents. To the contrary, the nazis did all they could to HIDE their crimes. World jewry BOASTS about its “one shot, two kills” butchery in Gaza.

      Did you know that jew terror organisations, like Britain’s “Labour friends of Israel” makes a point of inviting the jewish snipers to fund-raisers in their infiltrated nations. Shoot a young female medic dead in Gaza one day, fly to London the next so british jews can roll on the floor in hysterics as the sniper relates the story of his ‘kill’. And yes, this actually happens.

      • Omega

        You are correct about misdirection (aka: controlled opposition narrative), but I am afraid you have fallen for it yourself – unless of course, your intention is to misdirect as well.

        The real culprits (the anti-humanist Malthusian oligarchs) hide behind the “World Jewry” misdirection.

  • leon mc pilibin

    Thieves,genocidal murderers,and satanists. What’s the big surprise?These scumbags need a taste of their own medicine.

    • TiredOfBsToo

      Plain and simple, Zionists are knuckle-dragging-psychopaths unable to get along with people in the world that have evolved beyond knuckle-dragging. I hope to live long enough to witness the demise of these psychos, which I believe will arrive once the loss of the reserve currency status of the US no longer makes it economical to support butchering-knuckle-dragging-psychos with it’s military might.

  • Lena Jones

    Klepto jews. Forever klepto.

    • Promitheas Apollonious

      yep, is in their defective DNA.

  • Stephen

    Trump and Netanyahu both robbing looting every country in the world by both hands.

    • so

      Same as it ever was. Different thief different day. Until the well runs dry or they get punched in the face. Hard.

    • Joe Dirt

      They deserve it! Lol

  • You can call me Al

    They really are greedy bastards and disgusting swine.

    • BMWA1

      Those are the good points.

      • You can call me Al

        Nice response…. cheers.

    • Joe Dirt

      No gas for you

  • octavian61

    Wonder if this falls in also with the disturbances going on next door with Jordan ? Wonder if King Hussein is deposed, that is given refuge in a nice superb of Paris, will Jordan be given to the Palestinians as a consolation prize? Weren’t they given that in the very beginning?

  • Joe Dirt

    Cut of the terrorist funding! Good job Israel! Death to Islam

  • Stephen

    Trump and Israeli migrants are there in the Middle East countries to loot the lands and their assets by both hands. This is a very good chance to invade these looters and send them to the hell for ever.

    These bastards are used to loot lands and their assets in the whole world. First they went to America and looted whole land and their assets there, then they went to India, Middle East, Palestine, African countries and looted all lands and their assets.

  • Stephen

    Israeli and US barbaric forces have intruded in
    Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Georgia etc.
    and are holding civilians hostage there. Depriving them of food, water, shelters and medicines.

    All civilized nations need to rescue these civilian hostages from Israeli and US brutalities and provide them food, water, shelters and medicines in emergency otherwise the death of these millions of hostages will be a great disaster. Everyday Israeli and US barbaric forces shot 40 – 50 hostages to death by snipper rifles when they wanna leave the hostage areas.

    • Omega

      It’s hardly Israel or the US – both are hitmen. The oligarchs of the British Empire hijacked the US with the creation of Israel. It is them who still very much run the show.