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Israel asks for Australia’s expertise on LNG

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Monday, May 7th, 2012

As reported in The Australian Newspaper: ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on Australian liquefied natural gas companies to help develop his country’s giant offshore reserves.

In a meeting with Financial Services Minister Bill Shorten in Israel, Mr Netanyahu asked for assistance in developing the country’s offshore natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea.

“The Prime Minister raised with me the possibility of being able to draw on Australia’s knowledge in the LNG industry,” Mr Shorten told The Australian.

“He said Israel wanted to expand its LNG industry and was interested in what Australia has to offer. The LNG industry is going to develop in Israel. They are crying out for technology and knowhow.”

The industry could become a substantial export earner for Israel, which last year faced disruption of its gas supplies from Egypt because of political changes.

Texas-based Noble Energy is one of the companies involved in the latest natural gas find, the Tamar field 80km off the Israeli coast, discovered in 2009.

Mr Shorten said some international energy companies were wary of becoming involved in the Israeli industry for fear of getting offside with other Middle Eastern nations.

There was expertise in Australia that could be used to help develop the Israeli industry, he said. “After Qatar, Australia has the second biggest LNG industry in the world.

“There must be some of our players who can come and train people in the Israeli industry.”

The first deliveries of gas from the Tamar field are expected to come ashore next year.

That follows a deal signed last year with an Italian marine company to build a $140 billion floating LNG terminal with the capacity to receive 2.5 billion cubic metres of gas a year.

In meetings with senior Palestinian leaders, Mr Shorten also discussed providing advice on developing Palestine’s superannuation business.

Mr Shorten met the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, Salam Fayyad, and the head of its central bank, in the city of Ramallah.

The meeting was followed the next day by a visit to the city by three members of Mr Shorten’s delegation to Israel, the deputy chairman of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Ross Jones, MLC chief executive Steve Tucker and Challenger executive Jeremy Cooper.

“They have a moderate leadership in the West Bank and they are hungry for economic development,” Mr Shorten said.

“The fact that our regulators were able to go to Ramallah and give briefings on how the Australian system operates shows that not all diplomacy is about tanks or foreign affairs.

“The Australian superannuation system is uniquely Australian but it doesn’t mean it can’t flourish elsewhere,” he said.