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Israel makes first-ever crude oil exports as Karish gas giant ramps up


Symbolic advance for Israeli energy security

European destination likely for first shipment

Light oil exports provide 'differentiated income stream'

  • Author
  • Nick Coleman    Stuart Elliott
  • Editor
  • James Leech
  • Commodity
  • Energy Transition Natural Gas Oil

Israeli has begun its first-ever crude oil exports, with the loading of a cargo of oil from the mainly gas producing Karish field, the operator, London-listed Energean, said Feb. 14.

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The shipment, with trading company Vitol as offloader, is another symbol of Israel's progress to greater energy independence based on offshore resources in the Mediterranean.

Israeli refineries rely on imports from locations such as Russia, Azerbaijan and Iraq, and the country is sure to continue sourcing crude overseas, particularly to meet requirements for heavier oil, while exporting some lighter liquids associated with the country's gas production. The country has consumed around 210,000 b/d of oil in recent years, according to BP data.

Announcing Israel's entry to the "exporters' club," Energean suggested the cargo was headed for a European destination.

"Energean is delighted to confirm the first ever lifting of an Israeli crude oil cargo has taken place at the company's Karish field. For the first time in the history of Israeli oil and gas production, hydrocarbon liquids will be exported to global markets," it said. "This creates a significant differentiated income stream, fundamentally separate to gas-derived revenues. The cargo has been sold as part of a multi-cargo marketing agreement with Vitol; the first of a new source of East Med energy to reach Europe."

Energean commercial director Nick Witney added: "While we remain a gas focused company, with our Israeli gas production central to our role in enabling the energy transition, light, sweet crude oil, responsibly produced from modern, low-carbon intensity facilities is very much in demand, globally."

Karish came on stream in October 2022 and was set to reach an initial production capacity of 6.5 Bcm/year in 4-6 months. The company estimates recoverable reserves at 1.4 Tcf of gas and 61 million barrels of liquids.

Israel's No.1 source of crude shipments is Turkey, with the Turkish cargoes deriving from pipelines from Azerbaijan and Iraq -- the latter thought to include a significant portion from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. Russia and Nigeria are among other top suppliers.

The Energean Power Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel can store up to 800,000 barrels of oil, according to the company's website.

Energean has been working on building a second gas export riser and second oil train at Karish, with a second project, Karish North, expected to have a significant proportion of liquids content in the production stream.