Ashkelon Oil Terminal Closed

The Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline company announced today that it was shutting down the Ashkelon oil terminal and was sending out dismissal notices to 67 employes of its marine division who have been on strike for more than two weeks. The decision to shut down the oil port was taken by the company’s board of directors after the government and Histadrut intervened last night to prevent the company from breaking the strike by force, An attempt to do so last week resulted in a bitter clash between strikers and police.

The government backed the company’s decision to shut down and Dr. Tzvi Dienstein, the Finance Minister’s advisor on oil and energy, summoned workers representatives to his office this afternoon to explain why. The strike, which has paralyzed Israel’s oil exports, is estimated to be costing the government IL 2 million a day. The closing of the Ashkelon oil terminal, however, is not expected to disrupt work at the Abu Rodeis oil fields in Sinai which moves its oil destined for European markets through the pipeline to tankers in Ashkelon on the Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, once the oil storage tanks at Ashkelon and Eilat are filled to capacity, the drilling operations may be forced to halt.

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