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There's gas under those waves ... Photo:
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Natural gas field discovered on Gaza's coast

Middle East Monitor

1st March 2014

The besieged Palestinian territory of Gaza now enjoys the prospect of energy independence - a huge gain as fuel supplies to Gaza have restricted by Israel and Egypt. The big question - will Israel allow the gas field's development?

Palestinian fishermen saw bubbles coming out from the water and at first thought they were the result of plants or fish moving.

Palestinian MP Dr Salem Salama, a member of the economic committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council, announced that the Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip has discovered a natural gas field off the coast of the central province.

In remarks to Sout Al-Aqsa on Monday morning, he noted that the field is only 200 to 300 meters away from the central province's beach, which means that the natural gas can be easily extracted.

"The fact that the field is so close to the beach will facilitate the work of any company that might invest in this field. The return will be great for the Gaza Strip, in economic terms", he added.

Salama also revealed that the Palestinian Legislative Council has summoned the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Economy to provide more details about the subject and to discuss the government's view on how to benefit most from this field.

Fishermen 'saw bubbles' rising from the seabed

The MP explained that the field was discovered by a number of Palestinian fishermen when they saw bubbles coming out from the water and at first thought they were the result of plants or fish moving.

He pointed out that a number of navy personnel then took samples of the gas to the laboratories at the Islamic University, where it was confirmed that the substance was natural gas.

The Gaza Strip's inhabitants have suffered for several years under an Israeli-imposed siege, including tight restrictions on the border crossings.

And end to fuel scarcity?

This has often resulted in electricity cuts that increase in certain seasons due to the scarcity of fuel and the weakness of Gaza's only power station, which has negatively impacted all aspects of life in the Strip. To make matters worse, the Israeli occupation also targeted the station in the summer of 2006.

The development of the gas field would bring huge benefits to Gaza, including an end to its dependency on imports of fuel. The gas could be used as domestic cooking and heating fuel, to supply the territory's power station, and even to run vehicles that have been adapted for natural gas.

Furthermore it would provide Gaza's government with a much-needed source of revenue to pay for imports (most of which have to enter through tunnels from Egypt), pay salaries, and finance social programs and infrastructure improvements.

But progress will depend on Israel's willingness to allow an offshore gas rig to be installed, along with all other necessary equipment to enable the gas to be extracted and brought to shore.



This article was originally published on Middle East Monitor.

The final three paragraphs were added by The Ecologist.



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