The Emirati oil deal that has infuriated Israeli environmentalists

The Emirati oil deal that has infuriated Israeli environmentalists
A polluted area caused by an oil spill is seen at the Evrona desert reserve, near the Red Sea resort city of Eilat. (Reuters)
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Updated 14 June 2021

The Emirati oil deal that has infuriated Israeli environmentalists

The Emirati oil deal that has infuriated Israeli environmentalists
  • The pipeline was first set up as a joint venture between Israel and Iran in 1968 when the two countries were friendly. That partnership collapsed after the 1979 revolution that brought the ayatollahs to power

JERUSALEM: The first cargo ships from Dubai that docked last year in the Mediterranean port of Haifa were met by celebration in Israel. Flags waved. Reporters gathered. The prime minister walked the pier and gave a speech about the fruits of making peace.
There was zero fanfare, however, when oil tankers began arriving at the smaller Israeli port of Eilat on the Red Sea in an arrangement with Emirati partners. Rather than washing machines and cleaning supplies for consumers, the ships unloaded oil to be transferred through a pipeline across Israel to the Mediterranean.
The companies involved say this land bridge is the shortest, most efficient and cost-effective route to transport oil from the Gulf to the West. But the risks to the environment are far too great, say their opponents who are hoping to end the deal.
About a month after Israel normalized ties with the United Arab Emirates last September, Israel’s state-owned Europe-Asia Pipeline Company (EAPC) announced the new collaboration.
The deal was signed in Abu Dhabi with MED-RED Land Bridge, a company with Emirati and Israeli owners. In attendance was then-US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
EAPC’s roots are in the Arabian Gulf. It was first set up as a joint venture between Israel and Iran in 1968 when the two countries were friendly. That partnership collapsed after the 1979 revolution that brought the ayatollahs to power.
The Israeli pipeline still operates in both directions but well below capacity in recent years, energy experts say. With the UAE stepping into the role once held by Iran, EAPC hopes to increase quantities by “tens of millions of tons per year.”
The influx of ships set to dock alongside the fragile coral reefs in Eilat and the large amounts of oil to pass through Israel have outraged the country’s biggest environmental advocates.
Fresh in their minds is an offshore oil spill in February that blackened much of Israel’s Mediterranean coast with tar. And in 2014, one of EAPC’s own pipelines ruptured, spilling 5 million liters of crude oil into a desert nature reserve.
“Most of the details (of the deal) are confidential by law. We know just a little bit, but the little bit makes us very anxious,” said Noa Yayon, head of the legal department at the Society for the Protection of Nature.
Eilat’s coral reef is unique in that it has proved to be more resilient to climate change, when many reefs around the globe are dying. It is also a big tourism draw.
But its proximity to the port means that even the smallest leak from one tankers would cause big, possibly irreversible, damage, Yayon said.
“We are of course very happy with the current geopolitical status with the Arab countries in our area, but we don’t think that it has to come with the super-specific risks to our environment,” she said. “We think that we better promote business with these countries based on clean energy and not oil.”
Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel last Tuesday sent a letter to Israel’s national security adviser saying “the warning lights are already flashing” and demanded the deal be scrapped.
Too much was decided behind closed doors and remains secret, she said.
EAPC has not made public details of the deal.
“From a rate of six tankers a year, we expect an increase to more than 50 tankers a year docking in Eilat,” Gamliel wrote. “The continuation of this deal will be a tragedy for generations, whether from mishaps that may occur or in a wartime scenario.”
Gamliel is being replaced with the swearing in of the country’s new government, and her successor on Monday called the deal a mistake and said the government should oppose it.
EAPC said the new business is part of its routine operations and that it meets the strictest international standards. Plus, the broader geopolitical gains cannot be ignored.
“Israel is expected to benefit greatly from the agreement, which will strengthen the Israeli economy and its international standing, as well as ensure its energy independence and security,” the company said in a statement.
The Society for the Protection of Nature together with other groups have petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court for a temporary order to freeze the deal. Yayon said the state is due to present its official position in coming days.
The Finance Ministry, which oversees EAPC, declined to comment due to the open court case.
A representative of UAE’s National Holding, which owns Petromal, one of the owners of MED-RED Land Bridge, had no immediate comment on the issue.


Saudi stock market inches higher

Saudi stock market inches higher
Updated 7 sec ago

Saudi stock market inches higher

Saudi stock market inches higher

RIYADH: The Tadawul All Share Index ended Sunday’s trading 0.73 percent higher with 82.29 points while the parallel market Nomu declined by 195.17 points or 0.78 percent.

Liquidity in Nomu amounted to about SR35 million whereas liquidity in the main market “TASI” remained around SR6 billion with 169.4 million shares traded, in 243,8000 deals.
Shares of 115 companies increased while stocks of 71 firms declined.

Twelve out of the 21 market sectors rose with basic materials up 2.5 percent, media and entertainment 1.7 percent, long-term and capital goods 0.9 percent.

While the remaining 9 sectors declined. Shares in the investment and finance sector dropped by 1.2 percent, communications 1 percent, and applications and technical services 0.8 percent.


Oman Air seeks oneworld alliance membership

Oman Air seeks oneworld alliance membership
Updated 20 min 5 sec ago

Oman Air seeks oneworld alliance membership

Oman Air seeks oneworld alliance membership

DUBAI: State-owned Oman Air announced on Sunday its intention to apply to join the oneworld global airline alliance and said it had asked fellow Gulf carrier and member Qatar Airways to help it.

Oman Air said it had approached Qatar Airways, whose chief executive Akbar Al-Baker is the chairman of the airline group, for guidance in making its application.

“As the industry recovers from COVID, airline alliances are going to be more important than ever,” the airline said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

“This will provide us with excellent global connectivity, a seamless travel experience and more valuable loyalty offerings for our guests.”

A oneworld spokesman said the alliance was at any time in talks with prospective members but that it did not comment on specific airlines.

“As airlines recover from COVID-19, alliances will become more important by providing global connectivity, as airlines reshape their networks, many with reduced fleets when compared to their pre-COVID size,” the onewolrd spokesman said.

A Qatar Airways spokesperson earlier referred comment to oneworld.

There are 14 airlines in the oneworld alliance, including Qantas, American Airlines and British Airways.

Qatar Airways holds direct and indirect stakes in three oneworld members, including British Airways and Cathay Pacific.


Saudi Arabia’s real estate deals rise by 19%

Saudi Arabia’s  real estate deals rise by 19%
Updated 30 min 39 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s real estate deals rise by 19%

Saudi Arabia’s  real estate deals rise by 19%

RIYADH: The value of real estate transactions in Saudi Arabia increased by 19 percent to approximately SR15.59 billion ($4.1 billion) in the period between August and September, as compared to SR13.12 billion in the same period last year, Argaam reported citing figures issued by the Justice Ministry.
The number of real estate transactions recorded during the same period stood at around 20,900.
Commercial real estate deals rose by 93 percent to reach SR5.2 billion compared to the same period last year. 
Residential real estate deals represented 58.3 percent of the total transactions, commercial deals (33.4 percent), and agricultural and industrial deals stood at 8.3 percent.
Riyadh witnessed the largest number of real estate deals worth SR6.88 billion, followed by Jeddah at SR2.21 billion.


Saudi agriculture fund finances projects worth $480m

Saudi agriculture fund finances projects worth $480m
Updated 37 min 15 sec ago

Saudi agriculture fund finances projects worth $480m

Saudi agriculture fund finances projects worth $480m

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Agricultural Development Fund approved funds worth SR1.8 billion ($480 million) to support different agricultural projects in the Kingdom since the beginning of the year, Argaam reported citing an official statement.
At a recent G20 meeting in Italy, Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli said the Kingdom has allocated SR12 billion to support small farmers.
The minister noted that agricultural investments in Saudi Arabia, funded by the Agricultural Development Fund, have grown over the past four years by about 400 percent, which has contributed to building a resilient and sustainable food system.
The Kingdom has turned to modern technical methods in the field of agricultural extension, with the aim of reaching the largest segment of farmers in a faster and more efficient manner, the minister said.

 


Russia’s Gazprom is ready to boost gas sales to Europe: Report

Russia’s Gazprom is ready to boost gas sales to Europe: Report
Updated 41 min 40 sec ago

Russia’s Gazprom is ready to boost gas sales to Europe: Report

Russia’s Gazprom is ready to boost gas sales to Europe: Report

MOSCOW: Russian energy giant Gazprom stands ready to increase natural gas supplies to Europe, Interfax news agency cited a Kremlin spokesman as saying on Sunday, amid a surge in gas prices.

Dmitry Peskov also said, according to the news agency, that Gazprom is interested in more gas supply contracts.

He was speaking about the low level of gas in storage across Europe.

“Is it possible to get more gas from Gazprom and pump it in there? It's possible. Gazprom is ready. Moreover, it has already covered all the additional (supply) requests,” he was quoted as saying.

Russian gas giant Gazprom has been accused by the International Energy Agency and some lawmakers in the European Parliament of not doing enough to increase its natural gas supplies to Europe, where gas prices have soared.

Peskov reiterated that Gazprom meets all the obligations on gas supplies.

“Is Gazprom ready for more, for signing more contracts? Gazprom is interested in it. That's because our consumers in Europe are our main partners,” he said.

Benchmark European gas prices have risen more than 250 percent this year, leading to higher power prices and a knock on effect on industries reliant on gas for their production such as fertilizer plants.