Mar 2, 2022 - World

U.S. asked Israel for potential energy assist to Europe

The platform of the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

The platform of the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration asked Israel three weeks ago if it could help mitigate possible natural gas shortages in Europe in anticipation of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, a senior Israeli official told me.

Why it matters: The U.S. outreach to Israel was part of a wider effort by the Biden administration to prepare for a scenario where a war in Ukraine could lead Russia to cut natural gas supply to Europe, which could cause a severe energy crisis.

  • State Department officials say a disruption in energy supplies transiting Ukraine would most acutely affect natural gas markets in Europe.

Driving the news: A senior Israeli official told me that several weeks ago, State Department officials approached the Israeli Ministry of Energy and asked if it would be possible to increase Israel's natural gas production.

  • The U.S. officials wanted to check the possibility that Israel could deliver more natural gas to Egypt in order to process it there to liquid natural gas and ship it to Europe, the Israeli official said.
  • The Israeli ministry asked Delek Group, an Israeli company that is a partner of the U.S. energy giant Chevron, if it could increase natural gas production, a source with direct knowledge told me.

State of play: The senior Israeli official said the move hasn’t developed yet mostly because the amount of natural gas Israel can add to its current deliveries to Egypt is relatively small and wouldn't help much to address Europe's needs.

What they're saying: A State Department spokesperson told me that, in the context of the Ukraine crisis, the Biden administration is working with countries and companies around the world to ensure the security of energy supplies and to mitigate against price shocks that could affect the U.S. and global economies.

  • “We have been working to identify additional volumes of non-Russian natural gas from North Africa and the Middle East,” the State Department spokesperson said.
  • The spokesperson added that the U.S. is talking to major natural gas producers around the globe and with suppliers of liquid natural gas to understand their capacity and willingness to temporarily surge natural gas output and to allocate these volumes to European buyers.
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