Israel’s natural gas receiving buoy goes online

Excelerate Energy’s LNG ship off the Israeli coast

Here is some more excellent news to brighten up our week: last week it was reported that Israel Natural Gas Lines (INGL) had completed construction of a marine liquefied natural gas receiving buoy and would begin receiving natural gas immediately:

Energy officials at a launching ceremony on Thursday hailed the buoy as capable of relieving the country’s gas shortage until the onset of the Tamar reservoir this April, but also said the facility would remain a key component to Israel’s energy security future. The buoy, a Submerged Turret Loading Buoy , will serve as a connection point to the LNG gasification ships, which will unload natural gas directly to the maritime portion of the national transmission system at a volume of about 1.5 billion to 2 billion cubic meters per year.

In just its first weeks running, the government expects the buoy to save the Israeli energy market about NIS 500 million, a number that will expand to billions of shekels in coming years, according to INGL.

“This is the final stage for a great beginning in order to secure energy independence for the first time in Israel,” INGL chairman Ron Haimovsky told The Jerusalem Post prior to the launch ceremony at the Hadera Port on Thursday morning. “LNG will bridge the gap in the period of time between now and Tamar, but in addition will continue to supply natural gas – which is cleaner and cheaper to industry.”

Following a decision to import LNG made by Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau 22 months ago, INGL signed a NIS 500m. agreement with the Italian company MICOPERI in October 2011 for the design, manufacture and construction of the gas transmission buoy.

After negotiations with the residents of Hadera, the buoy was situated with their approval 10 kilometers west of the port. This week, the Israel Electric Corporation employed a leased gasification ship to conduct final system checks before the regular gas flow was set to begin on Friday, INGL said.

Since its 2003 beginnings, INGL has constructed four major transmission sections: sea line (active since May 2006), central line (May 2007), southern line (November 2009) and northern line (April 2011). In light of Israel’s forthcoming natural gas bloom, the company this year will be building a line to Jerusalem and an eastern line parallel to the coastline along Road 6, Haimovsky said.

The LNG project has been launched in “world-record” time, Haimovsky stressed, a sentiment echoed by Claudio Bartolotti, deputy managing director at MICOPERI.

All in all, the buoy stands 10 meters high, with giant anchors 18 meters in length and an 8-meter pipeline, as well as valves and subsystems, all implemented with 5,000 hours of scuba diving, according to Haimovsky.

[...]

“Beginning tomorrow, Israel will be one of the four countries in the world that has a floating buoy for LNG reception,” Turgeman said, noting that the buoy will be capable of transferring between 3,000 and 4,000 megawatts of energy per hour.

And indeed, as promised, natural gas started flowing (albeit not yet Israel’s own gas) from the buoy to a ship and from there into Hadera on Saturday night:

History was made on Saturday evening as natural gas began flowing from the regasification ship hired by the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to its power stations.

The ship, anchored about ten kilometers from the Hadera coast, was connected last week to the marine buoy and as of Saturday night, natural gas began flowing from the LNG (liquid natural gas) ship through an underwater pipeline directly to the Company’s power stations throughout the country.

The LNG is imported from Trinidad, a spokeswoman from the IEC told Arutz Sheva.

[...]

The project can supply between 1.5 to 2 BCM and is the additional source of energy that does not rely on the sole gas pipeline in the south of the country, and actually allows the IEC more flexibility, redundancy, and backup during times of crisis.

[...]

Eli Glickman, IEC President and CEO, said that “this is real news and that after the beginning of gas production from the Tamar field during 2013, LNG will become a method for storing gas, both as a backup for faults and as a response to the increase in demand beyond the production capacity of the Tamar field.”

[...]

Natural gas imported from abroad is cheaper than fuels such as diesel and fuel oil and is considered environmentally friendly.

Last month Israel launched an offshore platform for natural gas, a step towards energy self-sufficiency for the first time in history.

The platform, taller than Israel’s highest building, is located 24 miles west of the southern port city of Ashkelon and is scheduled to receive gas in April.

Haaretz explains the reasoning behind the decision to import the natural gas:

LNG is expensive but is needed in part to replace Egyptian natural gas supplies, which were cut off after Arab Spring demonstrations in Cairo started and President Hosni Mubarak was deposed two years ago. Only once the Tamar offshore gas field comes online will the LNG no longer be needed.

How different the world will look if we could all gain energy independence and not be reliant on unstable and violent Arab regimes.

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