By Elliot Dater
Pittsburgh and Israel are on the verge of, if not already in the middle of, becoming energy titans. For years, Israel was known for innovation in solar technologies, water technologies and other alternative energy and conservation initiatives due to a lack of natural resources. Pittsburgh was one of the early oil-producing states in the U.S. from the 1800s to early 1900s. Now both are in the middle of a natural gas revolution: Israel with tremendous offshore reserves and Western Pennsylvania with Marcellus Shale.
Estimates of the major gas reserves off the coast of Israel, in the Leviathan, Tamar and Tanin fields, run as high as 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. While those estimates are dwarfed by the size of the Marcellus Share reserves (estimated to be between 141 trillion and 400 trillion cubic feet), they are sizable nonetheless, potentially ensuring Israel’s energy independence for generations to come. The only debate is whether, and how much of, the offshore natural gas should be sold for export. Moreover, the petrochemical manufacturing potential that results from a thriving natural gas pipeline is a potential game changer for the economies in Israel and Western Pennsylvania.
Major international players are involved in Israel’s offshore gas play. For example, Noble Energy is a partner in the Leviathan exploration and Gazprom has signed a deal to purchase liquefied natural gas from Israel. The players in the Marcellus Shale are also some of the leading companies in U.S. natural gas exploration, such as Range Resources, Shell, Talisman Energy, Chevron and many others.
Local experts in entrepreneurship and innovation are taking notice. For example, last spring, Professor Paul Harper’s class at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh focused on the development of Israel’s natural gas resources and took note of the potential synergies with what is happening with natural gas exploration and development in Western Pennsylvania.
Not a fan of natural gas drilling, whether it is deep-sea drilling or shale fracking? Natural gas is not the only thing happening in energy in Israel and Pittsburgh. My next article will discuss developments in alternative energy in both markets.
Elliot Dater is a partner in Schnader’s Business Services Department, and represents Israeli companies doing business in the United States and U.S. companies and investors doing business in Israel, as well as emerging growth companies in the technology and medical device industries
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