Israel Must Improve 'Erratic and Unclear' Oil, Gas Regulations

Dagan also noted that there is a lot of interest in Israel from the general public and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

"What we've been seeing is quite a few petitions to the Israeli High Court of Justice on issues relating to location of [onshore] reception sites for natural gas and issues relating to oil shale activities onshore. There are a lot of demonstrations going on relating to these issues and public support in general is very strong for protection of the environment in anything concerning oil and gas activities," she said.

"There is no doubt that this state of mind affects the way regulators choose to move forward on various regulatory issues."

Dagan conceded that the oil and gas industry had to take into account that the regulators had been "thrown into this situation" after the discovery of large gas reserves in the Tamar and Leviathan fields in the eastern Mediterranean in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

"In fact, in early 2011 they realized that they needed to regulate the environment aspects of these activities and everything began very swiftly, so they too had three-and-a-half years to come to this point – which is a very short time to create a proper, stable and clear regulatory system for such a complex issue. They have been learning as they go along. The technical staff have been learning as they go along – the inspectors and so on."

Dagan called for the government to simplify and consolidate the regulations and aim to remove overlaps and contradictions. "These exist a lot right now," she said, explaining that there were situations in which as many as five separate public participation processes were running concurrently to decide how to move forward with a particular project.

"Actually, they need to take place one after the other and not simultaneously," she said. "These can cause major delays and they make no sense because they just repeat each other."


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