July 15, 2024

Chevron said Monday that it had resumed production of natural gas from a platform in Israeli waters on instructions from the government. Israel’s Ministry of Energy had ordered the U.S. energy giant to halt production at the Tamar platform, shortly after the Oct. 7 raids by militants from Hamas in Israel and the start of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

“We have resumed supplying customers in Israel and in the region from the Tamar Production Platform,” Chevron said in a statement. The facility, in the Mediterranean Sea, is about 12 miles offshore from the Gaza Strip.

Restarting Tamar likely means that the Israeli government has decided that the fighting with Hamas no longer threatens the facility. The initial anxiety about a wider escalation of the fighting disrupting energy supplies in the region has faded, and prices have recently slumped.

Gas is vital to Israel’s economy, typically accounting for about 70 percent of electric power generation. Israel sells its excess gas to Egypt and Jordan. Bringing Tamar back into operation gives Israel more gas to export to Egypt. Sales of gas are an important component of the ties between the two countries which, together, control access to Gaza.

Cairo uses the fuel imported from Israel to generate electric power, run factories and export onward to Europe and other destinations through two liquefied natural gas terminals on the country’s Mediterranean coast.

The closure of Tamar has contributed to a tight gas market in Egypt, crimping domestic consumption and exports.

Chevron is now the key player in Israel’s energy industry, operating not only the Tamar platform but a second large source of gas called the Leviathan field. The production facility for Leviathan is in waters off Haifa in northern Israel and is less vulnerable to rocket fire from Gaza. On the other hand, Leviathan is closer to Lebanon, the base of fighters from Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia that has clashed with Israel since the outbreak of fighting in Gaza.

Chevron hopes to use its position in Israel, Egypt and Cyprus as a regional springboard to become a major exporter to Europe. It is not clear what impact the war may have on these ambitions.

A third platform in Israeli waters, run by a company called Energean, also produces gas in the area.

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