Russia and Israel's relations can develop in energy upstream operations, said director of hydrocarbons at the Paris-based Mediterranean Energy Observatory (OME) on Friday.
"Regulatory problems [in Israel] were removed three weeks ago, and now Israel plans to attract new investors to its natural gas sector. So an energy-oriented cooperation between Russia and Israel in upstream operations is possible in the east Mediterranean. Israel may sell some gas fields such as the Tanin and Karish fields to Russia, or Russia's Gazprom can become a new partner in the Leviathan field," director Sohbet Karbuz told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
The Leviathan field partners, consisting of U.S. Noble and Israel's Delek, may make a final investment decision soon. However, they need another funding partner for natural gas sales because they alone are unable to finance the upstream process from the field, according to Karbuz.
Therefore, Gazprom's partnership in the Leviathan may become on the agenda again, but the current financial status of Russia and Gazprom is weakening this possibility, Karbuz said.
He also highlighted the increasing presence of Russia in the east Mediterranean, and said that its position in the east Mediterranean is strengthening, while there is a strong possibility that the country will also participate in the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral offshore natural gas licensing bid this summer.
According to Karbuz, Egypt and Lebanon will also hold new licensing tenders in the future in which Russia will avail of the opportunity to participate.
Russian Rosneft started to sell LNG to Egypt last month. Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's company, DEA, has a 35 percent share in the country's biggest natural gas project - the West-Nile Delta Project which is worth $12 billion, Karbuz explained.
He said that a scenario in which Russia has strong energy-related cooperation in the east Mediterranean with Israel, Egypt, the Greek Cypriot administration and Lebanon, may put Russia into a dominant position in which it can decide the amount, direction and timing of natural gas trade from the east Mediterranean to other markets. He added that this would easily negatively affect the supply security of both Turkey and Europe.
According to Karbuz, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to boost relations with Russia have also political and security undercurrents with Israel's desire to fall under Russia's protection.
"In the east Mediterranean, an attack from Palestine, Syria or Lebanon to an energy infrastructure in which Russia has a partnership, is impossible," he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu conspicuously met four times in the last one year, Karbuz explained.
"Netanyahu may considering filling the U.S.' gap with Russia's influence for a while by sending a message to the Obama administration.
Israel is also looking for Russia's support on several issues involving Golan Heights, Hezbollah, the problems with State of Palestine in UN Security Council, Karbuz said.
By Muhsin Baris Tiryakioglu