Zichron Ya’acov locals march to Jerusalem to protest Noble Energy gas rigs
Platforms 10 km. from shoreline might threaten health and environment, they say
Dozens of residents from Zichron Ya’acov in northern Israel demonstrated in Jerusalem on Monday against plans to install natural-gas rigs some 10 km. offshore.
Around 30 cars packed with protesters ascended in a snake-like convoy from Latrun junction to the Knesset, where a police escort waved them past security. Several members of the Knesset addressed the crowd, including MK Yael Cohen Paran (Zionist Union), who is the first-ever MK affiliated with the Green Movement, and MK Dov Henin (Joint List).
Emblazoned on the cars were signs demonstrating opposition to Noble Energy’s planned 120-meter-high gas treatment platforms being installed right offshore. Some 32 of the gas platforms are being proposed, and they would stretch from Haifa to Netanya.
Many of the protesters also object to an on-shore storage and processing plant meant for the toxic condensate, a natural gas by-product, at the Hagit power station and to a pipeline through Dor Beach. They fear a possible malfunction and argue that comparable natural gas facilities internationally are located much farther away from the shore.
“We are protesting the damage to the environment, the amount of poisonous materials that may be released through the air,” said protest organizer Yehuda Bruner, adding that he wants the government to just pipe in the dry gas without the condensate.
“It’s a horror for the environment, for people. But gas condensate is also a gold mine to the oil refinery industry. There are some people that are going to make billions of shekels from the gas condensate, and those people know their way very well in politics,” Bruner said.
The group of protesters demand that the dry gas be delivered from a floating barge with FPSO – floating, processing, storing, offloading technology – in a platform located deep at sea next to the Leviathan well, some 130 kilometers offshore.
It is unclear why Noble Energy has not accepted the FPSO proposal, and the company declined to comment for the article. A person affiliated with the natural gas industry said that the protesters should be directing their ire not at Noble Energy but at the government, which granted the permits and licensing for the offshore rigs.
The Leviathan natural gas reservoir has yet to be developed, and Noble Energy expects to connect the site by 2019. Israel’s only operating gas field, Tamar, sits some 80 kilometers out at sea, and its barge is located 24 kilometers from Ashkelon.
Bruner claimed that since the Tamar rig opened in 2016, it has produced more pollution than the entire petrochemical industry and the electric industry together in Israel. He also alleged that the Tamar rig is half the size of the planned Leviathan rig.
A Texas-based petroleum and natural gas firm, Noble Energy is first building the rig in the US, and then will transfer it to Israel for assembly. The company is headquartered in Houston and has a market valuation of $13.5 billion.
PROTESTERS DEMONSTRATE outside the Knesset against Noble Energy’s planned offshore gas rigs yesterday.