Leviathan Gas Field to Start Production despite Pollution Concerns

Leviathan gas field. (Photo: File)

In a major blow to Israeli environmentalists and climate activists, Israel’s energy ministry gave its final approval for the start of production at the giant Leviathan offshore gas field.

Officials said the wells will open early on Monday after an Israeli court lifted a temporary injunction granted over environmental impact concerns.

Rescinding Tuesday’s injunction, the Jerusalem District Court said on Thursday that appellants had not provided sufficient evidence that Leviathan’s emissions, in the gas field’s startup phase, could prove dangerous. It also cited reassurances provided by government representatives about precautions taken at the site.

However, the court left open the possibility of a further hearing on the issue.

On Tuesday, the Jerusalem court, in a surprise decision, issued a temporary order that barred any gas emissions from Leviathan, effectively putting the project, which was due to come online this month, on hold.

The companies, led by Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Drilling, have already signed major, multibillion-dollar deals for exports to Egypt and Jordan.

The field was discovered a decade ago about 120km (75 miles) off Israel’s coast. But its towering production platform was constructed just 10km from the shore.

Environmental activists and municipalities located near where the pipeline comes ashore had tried unsuccessfully – including at the country’s Supreme Court – to block the plan and force the structure to be built further out at sea.

The latest petition to halt the process was brought by several municipalities and an environmental group against the project’s operator, Noble, and Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection.

(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)

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