Do The Palestinians Own One Of The Richest Natual Gas Fields In The World?

Do The Palestinians Own One Of The Richest Natual Gas Fields In The World?
The US-built Gaza Pier

The Curious Case Of The Gaza Pier

The construction of the Gaza Pier has to rank as one of the strangest moves ever for an Administration not known for its rational actions. The cost alone of this Pier is staggering: An estimated $320 million will be spent on constructing this floating complex anchored three miles off the shore of northern Gaza.

The logistics involved in unloading each of the aid ships is incredible. Ann Wright, a 29-year veteran of the Army, points out in Zero Hedge that it will take 2,000 truckloads to bring all the food and supplies from one large ship ashore. Others have estimated that over 1.000 US Marines will be on the Pier to assure its safety.

It’s an incredible effort by the American military, especially considering that the alternative would be to open the southern gates of Rafah (the Philadelphia corridor) and let the waiting aid trucks in. Unfortunately, the Israelis won’t permit this, and President Biden hasn’t insisted.

To all the world, this episode is yet another blunder in American Foreign Policy. It is a case where the US spends unlimited sums of money to create a “solution” to an issue that could be solved much more simply and inexpensively.

But what if there is something much more sinister in all this? What if the Biden Administration, along with the Netanyahu Government, are implementing a plan that, if completed, would revolutionize the economy of Israel?

Here’s a story of how Israel, with support from the United States, is likely moving to exploit one of the world’s most significant natural gas reserves.

It all began in 1995 when then-President Bill Clinton presided over the Oslo Accords, a series of agreements designed to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The meetings took place over two years to hammer out the final deal. Yitzhak Rabin represented the government of Israel, with Yasser Arafat representing the Palestinians.

While the full scope of the agreements is beyond today’s discussion, one dimension is essential to note. The Oslo Accords provided that the Palestinians would control the waters offshore of Gaza. I’m sure that few thought then that this provision would loom so large in the two nations’ futures. International Law and maritime conventions usually allow countries to control their local waters.

Just four years after the Accords, the full impact of this provision was realized when British Gas Trading Limited began exploration in Gaza waters. British Gas is one of Britain’s largest natural gas companies, and soon, they discovered one of the most important fields in their history. By BG’s estimate, just 22 miles offshore from Gaza, at least one trillion cubic feet of natural Gas.

It was a staggering discovery that promised to enrich the Palestinian people who owned the field. BG drilled its first two wells in 2000 under an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Everything seemed to be in order, and full-time production would begin shortly.

Unfortunately, like many events in Gaza, little goes as planned. While BG pushed forward with feasibility studies and development plans for the Gaza Marine Field, in 2007, the Palestinians held elections — elections that Hamas won. Declaring Hamas to be a terrorist organization, Israel set up a naval blockade around Palestine and thereby canceled any further plans by British Gas. Seeing little change to develop the field, BG sold its interests to Royal Dutch Shell for $52 million in 2016, a major financial loss for BG.

Shell attempted negotiations in hopes of developing the field. Still, Israeli opposition was overwhelming, so Shell pulled out two years later, realizing its multi-million dollar investment was a complete loss.

However, during those two years, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) began estimating the Gaza Marine Field. UNCTAD estimated that this field could provide the Palestinians with $4.5 billion in revenue, a sum that would change the destiny of that beleaguered people.

But Israel remained implacable.

That was until 2022 when saboteurs destroyed the Nordstream II Pipeline. That event began a worldwide search for alternative power sources for Europe. The Gaza Marine Field was a natural at the east end of the Mediterranean. In fact, the Biden Administration, along with President Abdel el-Sisi of Egypt, had been pushing Israel for some time to permit drilling in the Gaza Field. Now, things went into overdrive.

By June of 2023, a thaw emerged in President Netanyahu’s long-standing opposition to developing the Gaza Marine Field. The Times of Israel put it this way:

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office declared that as part of a “framework of existing efforts” between Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, the government is moving forward with developing the “Gaza Marine gas field off the coast of Gaza.”

Now, let’s connect some dots. A picture is beginning to emerge at this point that Israel may desire to develop the Gaza Marine Field itself. Further, the United States may be aware of this and in a position to aid Israel.

Let’s take our story a step further.

At almost the same time as President Netanyahu announces a desire to develop the Gaza Marine Field, the Intercept reports that the US begins developing a new $35 million troop facility in the Negev, just 20 miles inland from Gaza. Is this related to the development of the gas field? I’m not sure; it may be just an odd coincidence, but it is something to note.

But then, October 7, 2023, and the horrific slaughter of innocent concertgoers. Once again, everything changes. Any joint development of the Gaza Marine Field is off. Or is it?

Is a major marine logistics center being constructed nearby? What is beginning as a humanitarian aid station could be transformed into a support system for developing gas drilling just a few miles south of its current location. Onboard would be US Marine protection and substantial capacity to support such an operation. All that would be needed would be to tow a drilling rig on site.

Admittedly, this is speculation. However, it would explain the out-sized cost of the current operation. It would also solve two of President Biden’s most pressing reelection issues: helping solve the European energy crisis and restoring the strained relations between his Administration and Israel.

Whatever the case, we can be assured that there’s much more to this curious story of an American-built Pier and the nearby Gaza Marine Gas Field.

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Jamie Larson