Minister Silvan Shalom at Tamar firld.
Minister Silvan Shalom at Tamar firld.Moshe Binyamin, PR

Four years after drilling began in the Tamar offshore field, some 80 km off the Haifa shore, natural gas began flowing Saturday evening from the offshore platforms to Ashdod.

The gas field's developers, and politicians, hailed this as "a historical day."

The gas is now flowing through pipes to a production rig off the Ashdod shore, and will begin to flow to the onshore storage facility on Sunday.

Use of the natural gas discovered in the Mediterranean Sea in the last few years is expected to assist the Israeli energy market and reduce electricity costs.

Development of the offshore field, which included 5 drilling projects and the laying of two 150-kilometer-long pipelines at sea cost 3.2 billion shekels.

Yitzchak Teshuva, CEO of Delek, said Saturday: "The vision has turned into a reality. Today, we are again emerging from slaver to freedom; from dependence upon foreign energy sources to independence with natural Israeli gas. This is a huge accomplishment for the Israeli market and the beginning of a new era."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Saturday night, "This is an important day for the economy of Israel. On the holiday of freedom, we are taking an important step toward independence in the field of energy."

Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom called the day "Israel's energy-related  Independence Day."