En­ergy ex­ec­u­tives: Perry would deepen US-Is­rael ties in sec­tor

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By SHARON UDASIN

If for­mer Texas gov­er­nor Rick Perry be­comes en­ergy sec­re­tary, Amer­i­can-Is­raeli re­la­tions in the sec­tor stand the chance to be­come stronger than ever, in­dus­try stake­hold­ers told The Jerusalem Post on Thurs­day.

“Rick Perry is a friend of Is­rael and has vis­ited Is­rael,” said Zvi Rome, chair­man of the Is­rael-Amer­ica Cham­ber of Com­merce’s en­ergy com­mit­tee. “What we have learned – we the en­ergy com­mit­tee here in Is­rael – is that this ad­min­is­tra­tion will take a fresh look at all en­ergy is­sues in the US, where the lead con­cern is to al­low en­ergy com­pa­nies to take their nat­u­ral lead­er­ship po­si­tion in the world.”

Rome spoke on the side­lines of the Cham­ber of Com­merce event in Tel Aviv, dur­ing which the CEOs of 34 Is­raeli en­ergy com­pa­nies met to dis­cuss the coun­try’s en­ergy fu­ture, along­side Shaul Meri­dor, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Na­tional In­fra­struc­ture, En­ergy and Wa­ter Min­istry. As Is­rael pushes for­ward in the race to de­velop its own en­ergy sec­tor, and its nat­u­ral gas in­dus­try in par­tic­u­lar, the Cham­ber of Com­merce is look­ing to pro­mote rel­e­vant col­lab­o­ra­tions among Amer­i­can and Is­raeli com­pa­nies part­ners.

If Perry re­ceives con­fir­ma­tion as US en­ergy sec­re­tary, this re­la­tion­ship is only likely to grow, ac­cord­ing to Rome, who is also the co-founder of Pet­coEn­ergy, an Amer­i­can en­ergy de­vel­op­ment and con­sult­ing firm with op­er­a­tions in Is­rael.

“We may see grow­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion of US com­pa­nies in the Is­raeli en­ergy busi­ness, if it is in the power plants or nat­u­ral gas off­shore de­vel­op­ment – so to speak, the sup­port of the US ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Rome said.

Such sup­port, he ex­plained, could en­able the com­pa­nies to par­tic­i­pate more freely in joint ven­tures and projects, he ex­plained.

While the for­mer Lone Star State gov­er­nor is ex­pected to take on the role of en­ergy sec­re­tary, his con­fir­ma­tion still re­mains un­cer­tain. On Mon­day, the Se­nate En­ergy and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee de­layed his con­fir­ma­tion “un­til fur­ther no­tice.” Perry’s ap­point­ment has been par­tic­u­larly con­tro­ver­sial due to his call to elim­i­nate the De­part­ment of En­ergy in 2011 as well as his pre­vi­ous de­nial of cli­mate change. How­ever, dur­ing his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing last week, Perry ex­pressed his re­gret for his state­ments about the de­part­ment and also ac­knowl­edged the ex­is­tence of cli­mate change.

From the per­spec­tive of the Is­rael-Amer­ica Cham­ber of Com­merce, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion is ex­pected to have a pos­i­tive im­pact on both en­ergy and busi­ness part­ner­ships be­tween the two coun­tries.

Al­though stress­ing that “the un­cer­tainty is so huge,” Oded Rose, CEO of the Is­rael-Amer­ica Cham­ber of Com­merce, said he felt the new ad­min­is­tra­tion seems “very pro-busi­ness.”

“I’m not say­ing the pre­vi­ous one wasn’t, but the new one is even more,” he said, ex­press­ing his hopes that trade agree­ments be­tween the two coun­tries would stay strong.

While speak­ing largely op­ti­misti­cally, Rose did voice con­cern about Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial com­ments on cli­mate change.

“I’m con­cerned also about the world and global warm­ing and I hope this is not go­ing to be at risk,” he said.

Un­der the new ad­min­is­tra­tion, Rome pointed out how the US stands to be­come a global leader in the nat­u­ral gas sec­tor, par­tic­u­larly in liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas.

Im­ported LNG still plays a crit­i­cal role in the Is­raeli en­ergy econ­omy, serv­ing as a backup source to its nat­u­ral gas sup­ply, from a buoy off the coun­try’s Mediter­ranean coast. Due to the fact that only one pipe­line con­nects Is­rael’s only op­er­a­tional gas reser­voir, Ta­mar, to the coun­try’s shore, Rome said he has rec­om­mended that the En­ergy Min­istry con­sider ac­quir­ing an ad­di­tional buoy for the time be­ing.

“It’s un­heard of and un­think­able to have a coun­try that ex­pe­ri­ences war ev­ery three or four years re­ly­ing on one pipe­line from Ta­mar for the en­tire en­ergy mar­ket, which is today con­sum­ing 60% of elec­tric­ity based on that,” he said.

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