Natural Gas Snapshot

Natural gas is a fossil fuel used as a source of energy for electricity generation, heating, cooking, fuel for vehicles, and as a chemical feedstock in the manufacture of plastics and other commercially important organic chemicals. Due to environmental reasons, natural gas is considered as the stepping stone between fossil fuels such as coal and oil, and renewable energy such as water, wind, and solar power. Natural gas reserves are estimated at 187 trillion cubic meters in 2015.

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Iran: The IRGC and the Natural Gas Projects

The energy sector is Iran’s richest source of revenue, accounting for around 80 percent of the country’s exports. The IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) is the largest single contractor in the Iranian oil and gas sectors today.

Thanks to its growing political power, the economic and development wing of the IRGC, known as Khatam al-Anbia (Seal of the Prophets), has in recent years obtained a series of multi-billion dollar contracts in the energy sector in Iran.

These include, for example, a US$ 2.5 billion contract for the development of phases 15 and 16 of the massive South Pars gas field, which straddles Iran and Qatar. The Guard is also set to build a 900-kilometer gas pipeline for transporting natural gas within Iran – a project worth US$ 1.3 billion.

Through its control of the relevant ministries, the IRGC in effect awards these projects to itself. No process of competitive tender takes place.

Israel: Natural Gas Will Exceed Domestic Consumption

The Houston-based explorer Noble Energy Inc., the Israeli Delek Group Ltd. and other explorers have discovered enough gas under the Mediterranean Sea to supply Israel’s needs for 150 years. To profit from the finds sooner, the companies want to export the gas by pipeline or ship. As the Israeli Ministry of Energy prepares to publish a blueprint for developing the fields later this month, officials say the country’s economy and security must come first and shipments abroad should be limited. The companies have discovered about 760 billion cubic meters (28 trillion cubic feet) of gas, which worth about USD 240 billion, equal to Israel’s annual economic output.

Today, Israel imports gas by LNG tanker, but now the Jewish state securing resources for domestic use through 2040 and allowing some exports. The energy industry said it creates uncertainty because gas exports will only be allowed at the government’s discretion.

Noble and Delek have held preliminary talks with South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. and Russia’s OAO Gazprom about building a floating LNG unit. Critics expressed their concern that such a facility could be vulnerable to an attack.

Giant Gazprom, which supplies about a quarter of gas consumed in Europe, signed a preliminary deal in March to buy gas from Levant LNG Marketing Corp., set up to sell the fuel from the Tamar and Dalit fields using a floating LNG plant. The duration of the deal is estimated to be for some 15-20 years and its value seems to be in the range of 12-15 billion dollars.

Export proposals also include building a pipeline all the way to Greece or combining the gas from discoveries off Cyprus and Israel at a joint LNG plant as soon as 2018. Another option is to build a plant in Jordan to ship the fuel to Asia through the Red Sea. Critics have observed that the pipeline to Greece is so expensive it won’t be economically viable. In any case, the Mediterranean gas discoveries have changed not only the Israeli energy scene but the perspectives of the whole economy, and of course of its fertilizer industry.

Israel: Another Gas Discovery for Delek and Noble Energy

Noble Energy and the Delek Group announced on early February another significant discovery of a natural gas field off the coast of Haifa.The field, located in the Mediterranean waters 120 kilometers northwest of Israel’s northern port city, reportedly totals about 1.2 to 1.3 trillion cubic feet.

Gas-bearing strata some 40 meters thick was discovered at a depth of 5,500 meters in the offshore Tanin 1 (Crocodile) well. That strata, part of the Tamar sands structure, is divided into two prospects, Sand A and Sand B. Tests are currently being conducted by Noble Energy as the firm stabilizes the borehole that was created during drilling.

The company will conduct wireline, electrical, seismic and magnetic testing as well as logging tests to check the composition of the rocks, liquids and the natural gas at the site. The share of the Tanin license owned by Delek is through Avner Oil and Gas LP and Delek Drilling LP. The Tanin field is reportedly slightly larger than the Yam Tethys reservoir, which is rapidly depleting and which has been an expensive alternative to Israel’s Egyptian gas supply that has been repeatedly disrupted over the past year.

In a separate development, according to Globes, Delek, Isramco Ltd. and Ratio Oil Exploration have decided not to develop the Or natural gas prospect located in the Med Yavne offshore license.

Currently Israel is getting 43 percent of its natural gas from imports from Egypt, but recurrent terrorist sabotage has made this supply highly unreliable.

Uruguay: The country could have the sixth largest natural gas reserve of the region

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessed potential technically recoverable shale gas and shale oil resources in the Norte Basin of Uruguay, resulting in total estimated mean resources of 13,361 billion cubic feet of gas (BCFG), 508 million barrels of oil (MMBO), and 499 million barrels of natural gas liquids (MMBNGL). The Norte Basin of Uruguay is the southern extension of the Paraná Basin of Brazil, and is largely covered by volcanic rocks. The Basin includes the departments of Tacuarembó, Salto, Paysandú, Artigas and Rivera and the US company Schuepbach is working there under a 2-year exploration contract which was signed with ANCAP (the Uruguayan national fuel association) in October 2009. The latter will begin perforations next December in the Departments of Salto and Tacuarembó.

India: Zuari Industries plans 1.3 million tonnes gas-based urea plant at Karnataka

Zuari Industries Ltd (ZIL), the country’s largest importer of fertilizers and agricultural inputs, is in the process of acquiring land and obtaining environment clearances for its proposed 1.3 million tonne (mt) gas-based urea plant at Belgaum in Karnataka.

A 1,400-km-long pipeline is scheduled to come up by March 2012 and it would bring the gas from the Petronet LNG’s Dahej terminal. They hope to commission the unit in 2015-16.

In a parallel development ZIL has already made investments to convert the feedstock for its existing 0.4 mt urea unit at Zuari Nagar (Goa) from naphtha to gas. They hope to get the gas from January 2012, which should come through a separate 120-km spur pipeline from Belgaum, but they also stated that even in case the gas should be imported, anyhow it will work out much cheaper than naphtha. The average production cost of urea from gas-based plants in India was estimated in 2009-10, to be less than a third compared to units running on naphtha.

Established in 1967 Zuari Industries Ltd. is an Agri-Input company belonging to the KK Birla Group of Companies.

Israel: Another Huge Gas Field Confirmed Off Haifa Shore

Initial drilling confirms that a huge gas field has been found off Israel’s Mediterranean shore. The amount of natural gas in the Leviathan gas field is estimated at 450 billion cubic meters – almost twice the size of the previous large gas discovery at the Tamar field. The find was announced in June but the size could not be confirmed until now. Preliminary estimations evaluate the market value in some US$95 billion.



About one month ago, the partners in the drilling project reached their target layer in an underwater geological structure 135 km west of Haifa. The Sedco Express rig drilled through 1,634 meters of water and penetrated to 5,100 meters under sea level. When it reached a layer of sand, advanced geological tests were conducted, and their results confirmed the presence of the gas.


The American Noble Energy Inc. owns 39,66% of the project; they are associated with three Israeli companies: Delek Drilling and Avner Oil and Gas (with an 22,67% each) and Ratio Oil Exploration, (with the resting 15%).


The project could in the future make of Israel a natural gas exporter.

Natural Gas: Israel to be Self-Sufficient for 20 Years

New estimates of natural gas reserves recently discovered off the Mediterranean Coast near Haifa will allow Israel to be self-sufficient in energy for some two decades, according to Yitzchak Tshuva, one of the investors in the project.
The Tamar 2 drilling, 3.5 miles north of the Tamar 1 site that was discovered in April, indicates the reserves are 26 percent larger than previously estimated. Noble Energy, the largest participant in the project, said that appraisals confirmed the quality of the gas and “have reduced the uncertainty in previous resource estimates.” The gas reserves are in addition to the Dalit gas field discovered off the Hadera coast, south of Haifa, earlier this year.
“With drilling at Tamar and Dalit, we have already confirmed a very substantial amount of natural gas resources, perhaps over two decades of future supply based on projected needs,” said Charles D. Davidson, Noble’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We are moving forward with development plans focused on bringing the first phase of production to the Israeli shores by 2012.”
Income from the gas might reach as much as $30 billion instead of the $20 billion that was estimated in April. Development costs for bringing the gas online are projected at $1.5-$3 billion.
Noble Energy has a 36 percent working interest in the project. Other participants are Isramco Negev 2 with 28.75 percent, Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration with 15.625 percent each, and Dor Gas Exploration with the remaining four percent.

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[Published on July 2009]