A U.S.-Israeli partnership of energy companies agreed to supply Jordan with natural gas from Israeli offshore gas fields, in a deal that is likely to benefit the neighbors economically and could strengthen the Jewish state’s relations with other countries that share an interest in fending off Islamist extremists.
A nonbinding letter of intent, signed Wednesday by Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group — key investors in Israel’s Leviathan offshore natural gas reservoir — and Jordan’s National Electric Power spelled out a plan to supply 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas to Jordan over the next 15 years.
Israel discovered natural gas off its northern coast in 2009 and last year started to distribute the commodity domestically. But the agreement with Jordan is its first export deal, and it would make Israel Jordan’s principal supplier of natural gas.
The deal, which would send natural gas to Jordan via overland pipes, is still dependent on final approval from the Israeli and Jordanian governments. But it is being hailed here as a historic pact that will bolster relations between Israel and neighbors worried about the regional rise of the radical Islamic State and other militant groups.
“This deal has major geopolitical implications, even more important than the vast economic benefits,” said Amit Mor, chief executive of Eco Energy, a Tel Aviv-based financial and strategic consulting firm specializing in Middle East energy. “These days, when ISIS is butchering Americans, as well as many thousands of Iraqis and Syrians in the region, this deal shows that an alliance is forming between the moderate countries in the region — Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.”