US Energy Monopoly Halts Supply of Natural Gas to Israel Electric Co.

Noble Energy, the operator of the Tamar offshore gas field, has suspended the supply of gas to the Israel Electric Corporation following the completion of its acquisition by US energy multinational Chevron, one of the successor companies of Standard Oil.

Chevron’s other partners in Tamar had agreed to sell the IEC gas at about half the current price, which is $6.30 per thermal unit. Now, the company has decided to suspend supply of gas to the IEC. Former Joint List MK and leading Communist Party of Israel (CPI) member, Dov Khenin, said, “The great looting is ongoing under the guise of the COVID-19 crisis.” called on the government to “make it clear to the Chevron that the Israeli public comes first.” He said this obligation is valid because “large sums of public money are in the game.”

A protest by environmentally worried citizens in Tel Aviv in July 2018 against the Tamar offshore gas field platform: "Don’t poison us!"

A protest by environmentally worried citizens in Tel Aviv in July 2018 against the Tamar offshore gas field platform: “Don’t poison us!” (Photo: Shomrei HaBayit)

The IEC appealed the decision to the Israel Competition Authority (ICA) on Wednesday, demanding that it investigate Noble Energy, which was bought for $4.2 billion by Chevron. The IEC claims it could lose up to $50 million in the upcoming year due to Chevron refusing to sell gas from Tamar at a reduced rate. The letter to the ICA accused Noble Energy of “keeping the Israeli energy market as a hostage” with the goal of “totally suppressing competition in the natural gas market and boosting its own profits.” The IEC claimed in the letter that Noble Energy is acting, “as a bully” and expressed hope that the refusal to provide it with gas “isn’t the indication of the new philosophy of doing business that came here with Chevron.”

Last week Chevron has completed the acquisition of Noble Energy, the company that holds most of the natural gas reserves off Israel’s coastline. Clay Neff, president of Chevron Africa and Latin America Exploration and Production, briefed Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on the completion of the transaction. The far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to put an optimistic spin on the development, calling it a “tremendous revolution in the supply of energy to the State of Israel.” “Chevron, the second largest energy corporation in the world, has come into Israel to help us get the gas out of the water,” said Netanyahu. Israel’s offshore reserves “will bring billions, tens of billions and perhaps hundreds of billions of shekels to you, the citizens of Israel, to health, welfare, the economy, education in every field,” he added.

Related: Posts on Noble Energy and the Tamar offshore gas operation