Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gaza's Gas Wealth

Kept From Palestine

Estimated to be worth at least $4 billion, gas deposits off Palestine’s territorial waters are being targeted by international corporations and the Israeli government.

Currently the 1.5 trillion cubic feet of estimated reserves are split between British Gas (60 percent), the Lebanese Consolidated Contractors (30 percent) and the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). Following Egypt’s withdrawal of their gas supplies following the end of Hosni Mubarak’s military rule and his previous cheap price for Israel, President Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet began a concerted effort to keep the gas flowing to Israel rather than sold at fair market price to generate corporate profits and revenue for the now unified Palestinian government.

Netanyahu asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations on the sale of gas to Israel. National Infrastructure Ministry successfully negotiated with US oil firm Noble Energy to guarantee any gas pumped offshore wouldn’t flow into the partly Palestinian-controlled Gaza Marine operation. While the majority of the reserve lies in Palestinian territorial waters, Israel’s adjacent offshore rigs are quickly being developed to pick up the slack of Egypt until the large Leviathan and Tamar gas fields off of Haifa are operational.

Noble Energy is currently shipping a fifth oil rig to join its fleet operating in Israeli territorial waters.
Michel Chossudovsky, an economist with the Global Research group, wrote that Palestine’s relatively small population would greatly benefit from such a surge of natural resource wealth – perhaps enabling the nascent nation to achieve Gulf State-style gross domestic product.

Sixty percent of the known gas reserves off the Gazan/Israeli coast lies in Palestinian territorial waters.

When Israel was planning it’s 2008 invasion of Gaza, it reportedly sped up negotiations with Nobel to cement them before the chaos of war.

"It is only reasonable to suppose that the intention to appropriate these limited resources, either by Israel alone or together with the collaborationist Palestinian Authority, is the motive for preventing Gazan fishing boats from entering Gaza’s territorial waters," wrote Noam Chomskyin forthcoming book Hopes and Prospects.

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