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Report: Israel Offers to Export Natural Gas to India

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz has offered that Israel export some of its natural gas to India, according to The Times of India.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/19/2011, 6:13 AM

Israel has offered to export natural gas to India, The Times of India is reporting.

According to the report, the offer was made by Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to the Indian government during his visit to the country last week.

The report said that in his conversations with his Indian counterpart, Pranab Mukherjee, and with India’s National Security Adviser, Shivshankar Menon, Steinitz is believed to have said that Israel was looking to export gas to India.

Sources told The Times of India that the two countries will be setting up committees to do a feasibility survey of the offer. The discussions are expected to intensify during a rare visit by India’s foreign minister, SM Krishna, to Israel in early January.

Israel has discovered several natural gas fields in its territory, including the Tamar gas field and the Leviathan gas field off the coast of Haifa.

Exploratory drilling began in the Tamar field in September, and on Sunday the Israel Electric Company signed an $8 billion deal, which would see it purchasing an estimated 3 billion cubic meters of gas per year from the Tamar field, starting in mid-2013, for the next 15 years.

India, The Times reported, sources most of its natural gas from Qatar and Oman. Iran, which could have been a major supplier, cancelled a huge deal to India after it had been signed, due to the country’s vote against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in the IAEA.

A gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan too has run aground on security considerations, the report noted. Within the country, India’s much hyped Krishna-Godavari gas basin has run into trouble after disagreement over pricing resulted in a drop in production, putting the country in the market for big gas flows.

The Times of India also noted that Israel and India have grown closer in the past decade through a strategic partnership that includes defense, counter-terrorism and intelligence. The relationship has flourished despite the fact that India has strong traditional relations with the Arab world, the report said.