Israel Natural Gas Lines has signed an agreement with Italy's Micoperi Marine Contractors, Ravenna, to plan and construct a floating offshore terminal along the country's central Mediterranean coast to better ensure its supply of liquified natural gas.

The $140-million project is expected to help Israel meet growing demand and counteract not only undependable natural-gas supplies from Egypt but also the current unavailability of supply from a large offshore gas field. Discovered in 2009 about 50 miles west of Haifa in the Mediterranean Sea, the Tamar field has an estimated 8.3 trillion cu ft of natural-gas deposits, but it is not set to begin production until 2013.

Israel's National Infrastructure Ministry ordered the floating-terminal project to be expedited in February, after Egypt cut off its gas supply in the wake of unrest following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. In addition, Israel's sole producing gas field is depleting faster than expected.

"This facility is of tremendous strategic importance for Israel and will enable the country to guarantee its energy supplies," says Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau. He says the timetable for the liquified-natural-gas (LNG) terminal was critical to enable Israel to deal with a gas supply shortage.
The floating terminal is to be located 10 kilometers off the coast of the city of Hadera.
The facility, with a capacity of 2.5 billion cu meters, is set for completion at the end of 2012. It will include construction of a submerged-turret loading buoy, designed to connect with a regasification vessel to receive regasified LNG being supplied by APL Norway AS, Oslo.

Israel Electric Corp. is in advanced talks with Houston-based Excelerate Energy LLC on LNG supplies that would be delivered on a tanker with regasification capabilities.