After Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his support for Iraqi Kurds' independence in a speech at a Tel Aviv think tank on Monday, questions were raised about energy links between Israel and northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish Regional Government. An energy expert from the Institute for National Security Studies -- where Netanyahu delivered the speech -- says however, that Israel has no ambitions for long-term energy relations with Iraqi Kurds.
Oded Eran confirmed to Anadolu Agency that a controversial shipment of Kurdish oil, transport form Turkey in May without the Iraqi government's approval, was recieved at the Israeli port Ashkelon -- though it was bought by a private company, not the Israeli state.
"There are no imports of oil from Kurdistan and the one tanker's load which was bought does not represent more than that," said Eran, a former ambassador to the EU. "The existing contracts in oil are quite satisfactory."
He said all oil and gas deals are done by the private sector, involving the government only when there is a need for a political agreement. "We will probably need such an agreement with Turkey if we ever sell natural gas to Turkey," he noted.
Eran said that unlike natural gas contracts which can be agreed for periods of 15 to 25 years, oil is easily bought, within a day, from spot markets -- which broker commodities deals that become immediately effective.
That the Kurdish oil arrived in Israel has raised questions about the country's ability to meet its energy requirements. According to the US Energy Information Directorate Administration, Israel is the biggest consumer of oil in the Mediterranean; it produced more than 6,000 barrels a day in 2013 but consumed 243,000.
"We import about 90 percent of our oil from Azerbeijan through a pipeline to Ceyhan and then by tankers, and the rest is imported by companies from different sources and also in the spot market," said Eran. Israel has deals with UK, Norway, Mexica, Angola and Colombia.
Israel also discovered two natural gas fields near Haifa; the Tamar field which is an estimated 280 billion cubic metres, and the bigger Leviathan, an estimated 530 billion cubic metres. Tamar started production in March, while Leviathan is due to start operating in 2016 or 2017.
by Selen Tonkus