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Israel's finance ministry seeks fourfold hike in thermal coal import tax


Israel's Finance Ministry Sunday proposed hiking a tax on thermal coal imports more than fourfold from 2015, which would raise the excise paid by the country's sole consumer Israel Electric Corp. to $54.30/mt from $12.85/mt.

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The proposal is part of the ministry's plan to cover the rise in expenses resulting from the current military operation in the Gaza Strip.

The ministry said it expects the move would generate $457 million in additional revenue in 2015.

However, it would be offset by a planned reduction in electricity rates.

The Public Utilities Authority earlier this year forecast Israel's electricity rates would fall 12-15% in 2015 due to the increasing use of natural gas resulting from the huge Tamar offshore gas field coming on stream in March 2013. However, the Energy and Water Ministry said Sunday the proposed excise tax on coal imports would cancel out at least half that reduction and expressed its opposition to the proposal.

State-owned IEC consumed 2.765 million mt of coal in the first quarter, down from 3.17 million mt a year earlier. Coal accounted for 62.1% of the total fuel it consumed in Q1, down 1% over the same period.

In contrast, the utility consumed 658,833 mt of natural gas in Q1, up from 532,535 mt a year earlier, while its percentage of the total fuel mix rose to 37.8% from 25.6% over the same period.

The sharp rise in natural gas use was at the expense of gasoil, the use of which fell to just 5,577 mt in Q1 from 242,419 mt a year earlier, and fuel oil, which slumped to 426 mt from 74,702 mt over the same period.

--Neal Sandler,
--Edited by Wendy Wells,