by Chris Perver
The recent discoveries of vast deposits of natural gas off the coast of northern Israel are threatening to destabilize the Middle East as governments compete for the rights to grant licenses for exploratory drilling. Back in 2009 Nobel Energy announced their largest ever find of natural gas, just 90 kilometres off the coast of Haifa. Around 16 trillion cubic feet of gas was discovered in the ‘Leviathan’ field, which lies within Israel’s territorial waters. An additional 8.4 trillion cubic feet of gas was found in the ‘Tamar’ field, enough to meet Israel’s energy requirements for the next 100 years. The company estimates that the Levant basin, the trench joining Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus, could contain as much as 300 trillion cubic feet of gas, which would transform Israel from being dependent on gas imports into one of the world’s major energy exporters. But border disputes between Israel and Lebanon, as well as between Cyprus and Turkey, are threatening that prospect.