Photo of the Tamar Lease natural gas rig, located 90 kilometers west of the city of Haifa, northern Israel (photo credit: AP/Albatross Aerial Perspective/Times of Israel)
UPDATED: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced this weekend that the dawn of Israeli “energy independence” has arrived. Today, for the first time in history, Israeli natural gas is being pumped out of the Mediterranean Sea and back towards the Jewish state. Soon, the Jewish state will no longer need to import energy, thus making Israel more financially independent and in turn enhancing her national security. What’s more, if it chooses to, Israel will soon also be able to export natural gas to Europe, a move that could make Israel enormously wealthy and become a game-changer economically, geopolitically and perhaps prophetically.
Here are the latest headlines from the Israeli media:
Readers of The Last Jihad novel series may recall that the plot — Russia and Iran form a military alliance and seek to attack Israel, a move that triggers the ”War of Gog and Magog” that was prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39 – was premised on two key prerequisites: 1) Jews ”living securely” back in the Land of Israel after centuries in exile; and 2) Israel becoming so wealthy that the leaders of Russia (Magog) would seek to plunder the Jewish state. In the novel series (which was first published in 2002), I created a fictional scenario in which Israel discover massive amounts of petroleum and become a regional economic superpower, thus drawing Russia’s attention, and the greed of the leaders in the Kremlin.
Back then, many people scoffed at the notion that either of these prophetic prerequisites could ever come true, particularly in our lifetime. So in my first non-fiction book, Epicenter (published in the fall of 2006), I laid out the research behind my novels. Noting that Israel was already far more prosperous than her immediate neighbors — including the Palestinians, the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Syrians and the Lebanese, I argued that it was possible that the Israel could become far more prosperous due to a series of Bible prophecies which indicate that Israel will make major discoveries of petroleum in “the last days.” IN Chapter 5 of Epicenter, which was entitled, “FUTURE HEADLINE: ISRAEL DISCOVERS MASSIVE RESERVES OF OIL, GAS,” I explained the prophecies and how they could come to pass in the future, possibly in our lifetime.
Has that moment arrived?
“Natural gas from the offshore Tamar field was pumped to Israeli shores for the first time Saturday, four years after its discovery, in preparation for its first use in the Israeli energy market — a move that could transform the Israeli economy,” reports the Times of Israel. “The Tamar deposit, discovered in 2009 some 90 kilometers west of Haifa, holds an estimated 8.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
“On Saturday, hailed an ‘important day for the Israeli economy’ by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, natural gas from the field was being pumped to a newly erected facility on the coast at Ashdod, connected to the gas field via pipelines laid out on the ocean floor, 150 kilometers long and 16 inches wide,” noted the Times. “Commenting on the historic development, Netanyahu drew a link between the event and the holiday of Passover. ‘On the festival of freedom, we are taking an important step toward energy independence. We have advanced the natural gas sector in Israel over the last decade, which will be good for the Israeli economy and for all Israelis,’ Netanyahu said. The gas is to be transferred Sunday from the facility to a processing plant in Ashdod. From there, it will flow into the Israeli market. These newly harnessed resources promise to be a major boon to both the country’s public and private energy needs. The controlling Tamar shareholder, Yitzhak Tshuva, said Saturday’s start of pumping came ‘months ahead of schedule.’….The gas from Tamar is expected to help meet Israel’s energy needs for the next 20 years, Channel 2 said, and will save the economy some NIS 13 billion (some $ 35 billion) per year. Its ahead-of-schedule use will also save Israeli citizens some cash — lowering a planned rise in electricity costs to 6 percent, less than originally planned. ‘This is an energy independence day for Israel,’ said Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom. ‘This breakthrough is the harbinger of the foray of additional private companies’ into the Israeli energy market, he added.”
“The Tamar deposit, and especially the heftier Leviathan, which was discovered in 2010, are expected to provide Israel with enough natural gas for decades and transform the country, famously empty of natural resources, into an energy exporter,” reported the Times. “Leviathan, which boasts an estimated 16 to 18 trillion cubic feet of gas, is expected to go online in 2016, the approximate time when exports are expected to begin.”
Curiously, the Russians are already eyeing Israel’s new gas discoveries and wanting a piece of the action (see articles below).
Bottom line: While it is too soon to conclude definitively that we are seeing events line up for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39 in our lifetime, the discovery, development, and pumping of natural gas is certainly an historic moment for Israel. It will be a great blessing to the Jewish people, to be sure. But it also could draw enemies who will try to attack Israel’s burgeoning natural gas industry and choke Israel economically. Could Russia conceivably become one of those enemies? Only time will tell, but it’s worth noting that Russia certainly views itself as a superpower in the natural gas market, and is currently the biggest supplier of natural gas to Europe.
- NOW RUSSIA WANTS “IN” ON ISRAEL’S NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY: And Israel proposes selling its natural gas to Arab neighbors to encourage peace (blog post, March 28, 2012)
- Russia’s Gazprom, Israeli Group Ink Gas Deal (Economist Intelligence Unit, March 1, 2013)
- Gazprom Signs Deal for LNG Exports From Israel’s Offshore Fields (Bloomberg BusinessWeek, March 22, 2013)
- With natural gas discoveries, Israel faces geopolitical tangle on its way to self-sufficiency (AP, March 29, 2013)
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