Israeli officials said they recognise the need to protect the unique and fragile marine environment of the Levant basin in order to ensure the success of the oil and gas industry there.
The promise of natural gas wealth is enticing an increasing number exploration companies to the eastern Mediterranean, where huge deposits were recently discovered and whose marine ecosystem, Israel’s influential environmental groups say, is now potentially under threat.
Nearly half the Levant basin — which holds an estimated 122 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of recoverable natural gas – is in Israeli economic waters. The rest lies off of Cyprus, Lebanon and Syria.
“Protecting the environment and security is necessary for the exploration industry to succeed. If, heaven forbid, a catastrophe or severe damage happens, it will most likely freeze or paralyze the industry for many years,” Energy Minister Uzi Landau told Reuters.
One of the biggest challenges in the Levant basin is the depth of the wells. The largest fields so far discovered are deeper than the site of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010, where rescue efforts were hindered so far beneath the water’s surface.