Israeli gas, Iranian Missles, and the Russian Price Tag
In the on-going debate over an Israeli attack on Iran, attention has largely focused over the last few weeks on Israel and America, for good reason. But what about Russia?
A very senior person in the Israeli gas industry tells me: "The Russians have been poking around here for a while. Everyone knows about the Russian interest in controlling the European energy market. Do they want to buy from us, or delay our efforts? I don't know. But they are here."
In early July, the Israeli energy and infrastructure news website "Thastiot" claimed that during Vladimir Putin's much publicized visit to Israel, Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to form a junior company to Gazprom – the Russian oil and gas giant—which would help develop Israel's biggest gas field, the recently discovered reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, the so-called "Levyatan" (Leviathan) reserves.
"Eventually Israeli gas will be exported to the far east," Ohad Marani, CEO of IDLC energy which is already drilling the Myra, said to me. For him, the question is purely economic. "In the Far East we will see three times what we see in Europe. While we won't be able to keep the whole margin, it's surely better than any European option, which would involve an expensive pipe."
The senior industry veteran with whom I spoke is not quite sure. Yes, the Far East has unlimited demand ("The Japanese are lessening their reliance on nuclear, and the Chinese can never have enough") but the European market remains relevant and we have this massive amount of gas already discovered or to be discovered. The US geological survey (USGC) estimates that gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean amount to 345 trillion cubic feet while Russian gas reserves in Siberia are estimated at 643 tcf.
Big business! With lots of Russians having come and gone to Israel on this question, one wonders about the relationship between the gas deal and Russian involvement on the Iran question.
The same week Putin visited Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Eurasia monitor published that:
"the government agency that oversees Russia's arms exports and imports… confirmed that Iran is suing Russia for damages to the tune of some $4 billion in the Court of Arbitration in Geneva for cancelling in 2010 a contract to sell five divisions of the S-300 long-range antiaircraft missile system worth an estimated $800 million to $1 billion."
By some estimates the worth of the Levayatan gas-field might be 15 billion dollars say Gilad Alper, the gas industry analyst at the Excellence Investment house. It trades today at a price of 3 billion dollars.
Another way to look at it: Levayatan contains 473 billion cubic meters of gas. Gazprom exported 150 billion cubic meters of Gas to Europe in 2011, at a price of 384$ per thousand cubic meters – revenue of 57.6 billion dollar—this year Gazprom raised the price to 415$, an 8% increase that will generate another 4.6 billion dollar of revenue to Gazprom. What would be the cost of keeping Israeli competition neutralized? Would it be worth the cancellation of an 800 million dollar deal? Could Russian action over the missile sale and Israeli gas reserves indicate that they have come to terms with the Israeli point of view?
Prominent Americans like David Petraeus have been saying non-stop that Israel does not have the capability to destroy Iranian Nuclear capacities, and surely not Iran's ambition to go nuclear. But if Israel can indeed delay the project while in the meantime having taken out of the picture one of Iran's most important allies, then things might look very different from the office of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Everyone knows that Russia intends to play the 'spoiler' in the International arena. But this spoiler frequently has a price tag.
Reader comments on this item
|Doubts about Putin's Russia [51 words]||Paul Marks||Aug 21, 2012 01:53|
|Interesting times. [46 words]||Alisa||Aug 19, 2012 06:11|
|What about the Europeans? [45 words]||Yoram sella||Aug 17, 2012 10:43|
Comment on this item
by Burak Bekdil
The Turkish government "frankly worked" with the al-Nusrah Front, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, along with other terrorist groups.
The Financial Task Force, an international body setting the standards for combating terrorist financing, ruled that Turkey should remain in its "gray list."
While NATO wishes to reinforce its outreach to democracies such as Australia and Japan, Turkey is trying to forge wider partnerships with the Arab world, Russia, China, Central Asia, China, Africa and -- and with a bunch of terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Nusrah Front.
Being NATO's only Muslim member was fine. Being NATO's only Islamist member ideologically attached to the Muslim Brotherhood is quite another thing.
by Samuel Westrop
British politicians seem to be trapped in an endless debate over how to curb both violent and non-violent extremism within the Muslim community.
A truly useful measure might be to end the provision of state funding and legitimacy to terror-linked extremist charities.
by Soeren Kern
"My son and I love life with the beheaders." — British jihadist Sally Jones.
Mujahidah Bint Usama published pictures of herself on Twitter holding a severed head while wearing a white doctor's jacket; alongside it, the message: "Dream job, a terrorist doc."
British female jihadists are now in charge of guarding as many as 3,000 non-Muslim Iraqi women and girls held captive as sex slaves.
"The British women are some of the most zealous in imposing the IS laws in the region. I believe that's why at least four of them have been chosen to join the women police force." — British terrorism analyst Melanie Smith.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
"Armed robbery in broad daylight." — Palestinians, after Hamas "seized" $750,000 from Gaza bank.
Fatah accused Hamas of "squandering" $700 million of financial aid earmarked for the Palestinian victims of war. Fatah wants to ensure that the millions of dollars intended for the Gaza Strip will pass through its hands and not end up in Hamas's bank accounts. Relying on Fatah in this regard is like asking a cat to guard the milk.
The head of the Palestinian Authority's Anti-Corruption Commission revealed that his group has retrieved $70 million of public funds fund embezzled by Palestinian officials. Arab and Western donors need to make sure that their money does not end up (once again) in the wrong hands. Without a proper mechanism of accountability and transparency, hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to find their way into the bank accounts of both Hamas and Fatah leaders.
by Mudar Zahran
"If Hamas does not like you for any reason all they have to do now is say you are a Mossad agent and kill you." — A., a Fatah member in Gaza.
"Hamas wanted us butchered so it could win the media war against Israel showing our dead children on TV and then get money from Qatar." — T., former Hamas Ministry officer.
"They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did." — D., Gazan journalist.
"Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot. That way people had to stay in their homes, even if they were about to get bombed. Hamas held the whole Gazan population as a human shield." — K., graduate student
"The Israeli army allows supplies to come in and Hamas steals them. It seems even the Israelis care for us more than Hamas." — E., first-aid volunteer.
"We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation… We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money. We miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here." — S., graduate of an American university, former Hamas sympathizer.