Offshore gas-extraction platform used at the Tamar gas field was built at a Kiewit modular site in Texas.

With natural gas set to fuel 80% of Israel's power production by 2020 following the discovery, in 2009, of two large fields off its Mediterranean Sea coast, the country now is pushing to expand storage and transportation infrastructure, both offshore and on land. Despite environmental opposition, billions are set to be invested.

Israel's National Planning Commission on Nov. 11 cleared two projects in central and northern Israel to build new infrastructure and receiving terminals on 50-acre sites to treat gas from the Tamar and Leviathan fields.

The fields contain about 19 trillion cu ft of gas.

Israel now has only one receiving terminal at Ashdod, which energy consultant Amit Mor said "is a strategic threat to Israel's national security."

Protests from environmental groups and nearby residents had delayed the approval process. But Gideon Lerman of Lerman Architects and Town Planners Ltd. says an offshore terminal would be double the estimated $1-billion cost of a land-based facility. His Tel Aviv firm is teamed with Scotland's Project Development International Ltd. and Holland's Royal HaskononingDHV to do the facilities' conceptual and environmental plans.

A pipeline network will link offshore gas-extraction platforms to the new terminal sites.

Israeli officials are expected to make a final decision on the new terminals by next August. Then, they would begin a tendering process that is expected to attract a mix of local and foreign competitors, according to Lerman.

The government also will decide whether to construct the two facilities consecutively or simultaneously. The current target is for at least one to be operating in 2016.