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TIMELINE: Why hasn't Gaza Marine produced gas?

Discovered 16 years ago, the Gaza Marine field has never produced gas. MEE looks back at its history and related events
Palestinians scan the Gaza coast at the port in Gaza City (AFP)

1999

- British Gas Group discovers Gaza Marine (17 to 21 nautical miles from Gazan coast)

- Israeli companies in Yam Thetis consortium (Noble Energy and Delek Group) makes first gas discovery

November - 25-year contract for gas exploration and development of Gaza Marine signed between BG Group, the Palestinian-owned Consolidated Construction Company, and the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF); Nabil Shaath, then the PA's Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, tells Palestinian radio: “Under the Gaza-Jericho agreement, the Israelis acknowledged our right to 20 miles (32 km) into the sea as an economic sovereignty area, including its potential resources, such as oil and gas."


2000

– BG Group drills two wells, does feasibility studies on Gaza Marine with good results

– First test drill on Israeli gas field Noa (estimated to have 0.04 tcf), adjacent to Gaza Marine; Mari-B, another field (estimated to have 1.5 tcf) discovered 

Summer - Launch of Israeli, PA and BG Group negotiations within the Oslo narrative of economic cooperation

June – BG Group proposes to supply gas from Egypt, Gaza and Israel (fields off Ashkelon) to Israel Electric Corporation

July – Israeli PM Ehud Barak grants BG Group authorisation to secure first well in Gaza Marine, called Marine-1

-PA approves BG Group development plan including construction of a pipeline linking gas fields in sea to Gaza costing $150 mn

27 September – PA President and Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation Yasir Arafat lights first flame at Gaza Marine rig

28 September – Launch of Second Intifada

November – BG begins drilling second well in Gaza Marine (Marine-2)


2001

6 February – Ariel Sharon elected; vetos any Israeli purchase of Palestinian gas


2002

– BG Group conducts second feasibility study on Gaza gas (first is done in 2000). Cost of both is $100 mn (Kattan)

– Bertini Commitment reduces Oslo-agreed 20 nautical miles (37 nautical km) off Gaza for Palestinians to 12 nautical miles (22 nautical km) 

May – Sharon lifts his veto, reportedly at urging of then UK-Prime Minister Tony Blair


2003

Summer – Sharon reverses his decision, claims money Israelis would pay to PA for gas could support terrorism, despite Israeli announcement that gas revenues to Palestinians would be transferred to a special account used for international aid and tax clearance revenues, according to Anais Antreasyan's 2012 paper on gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean


2004

11 November – Arafat dies


2005

January – Mahmoud Abbas elected, sworn in as leader of Palestinian Authority

May – Israel and Egyptian company EMG sign $2.5 bn gas deal. Egyptian gas to be supplied to Israel for 15 years gas deal

September – Israel’s redeployment of Gaza


2006

- UK officials try, at some point during the year, to persuade Israel to return to the negotiation table with BG Group

January – Hamas election; nautical miles reduced down from 12  (19 nautical km) - from 2002 Bertini Commitment - to six (10 nautical km)  

- Ehud Olmert replaces Sharon; reportedly has better relations with Blair 

12 July – 14 August – Israel-Hezbollah war 

2007

29 April – Israeli cabinet approves Olmert’s proposal for new discussions with BG Group

May – Terms of BG Group-Israeli purchase are revealed (Israel would purchase .05 tcf of Pal gas for $4 bn annually starting in 2009); Abbas and Israeli government secretly agree that PA share of revenues to be transferred through an international account inaccessible to the official PA govt dominated at that time by Hamas after the Jan 2006 elections. Gas to be piped to Ashkleon for liqurefaction in Israel, then supplied to Israeli market and cover limited Gaza needs.

14 June – Hamas seizes Gaza Strip – start of West Bank-Gaza split. Gaza government says it will change the terms of the contract (at that point, Pal share is 10 percent). But talks still continue between PA and Israel bypassing Hamas.

October – Then Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon advises Israelis not to conclude agreement with BG Group

20 December – BG Group announces end of negotiations with Israel because of "insurmountable disagreements"


2008

14 January – BG Group closes offices in Israel; keeps offices open in Ramallah and retains concession for the gas fields

February – Egypt becomes Israel’s main gas supplier

May - Group of Egyptian opposition MPs and activists launch campaign against Egypt gas deal with Israel; Israeli officials concerned, believe country should find alternative gas supplier

27 December – Gaza War starts; nautical miles assessible to Palestinians off Gaza reduced to 3 (5.5 km) from 6 (11 km)


2009

-Tamar gas field (estimated to have 10 tcf) discovered; situated 52 miles (83 kilometres) off Haifa; drilled by Noble energy and partners

18 January - Gaza War ends

March – Noble Energy discovers Dalit gas field (estimated to have 0.5 tcf), 27.3 miles off Israeli coast


2010

– Israel's largest gas field so far, Leviathan, discovered 81 miles (130 km) off Haifa


2011

January – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas open discussion again of possible gas contract after Egypt cuts volume of gas being sold to Israel during uprisings

4 February – Netanyahu announces, with Quartet Representative Tony Blair at his side, that time has come to develop Palestinian gas: “ . . . the revenues from the Palestinian fields go to the Palestinian Authority and the revenues from the Israeli field go to the Israeli government and I think this is good for stability, good for prosperity and good for peace.” 

11 February – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigns

May – Cairo says it will halt Israeli gas supply if higher price isn’t negotiated

November - Dolphin gas field discovered; estimated to hold 0.08 tcf


2012

February - Delek reports "strong signs" of gas at Tanin gas field, estimated to have 1.2 tcf

April – Egypt announces it will halt gas exports to Israel

June – Former Egyptian Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy sentenced in Egyptian court for selling underpriced Egyptian gas to Israel

August - Shimshon gas field discovered; estimated early on to have around 2.3 tcf, later thought to have 0.3 tcf

September – New round of PA-Israeli negotiations on gas begin; Hamas reiterates its rejection of any agreement without its participation: "We do not recognise any agreement reached by the Palestinian Authority regarding the gas fields off Gaza's shores, and the government in Gaza should be consulted over any agreement of this kind," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. Talks end without progress


2013

30 March – Tamar field production begins; gas piped to Israeli Electric Company power plants in Ashdod


2014

January – Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC) becomes first customer of largest Israeli gas field, Leviathan, signing letter of intent to pay $1.2 bn for 20 years' worth of suppply. Announcement that gas will be used at new power plant to be built near Jenin

February - Noble Energy signs $771 mn deal with Amman-based Arab Potash Company and affiliate Jordan Bromine to supply gas from Tamar for 15 years. US State Department mediates talks that lead to deal

May - Karish gas field is discovered; estimated to have 1.8 tcf

8 July - 26 August - Gaza war

September - Jordanian goverment signs letter of intent with Noble Energy for 15 years supply of Israeli gas, valued at between $14-$15bn.

10 December - Majority of Jordanian MPs vote against government deal with Noble Energy. Vote is non-binding, allowing government to move forward with deal if it wants.

23 December - Israel's Antitrust Authority head suggests he will break Noble Energy and Delek Group's ownership of Leviathan, throwing deals with Jordan and PPGC into question.


2015

March - PPGC calls off Israeli gas deal