Norway to Discuss Oil Sale to Israel

Israel and Norway are to begin discussions in coming months on the possible supply to Israel of surplus oil from Norway’s North Sea wells. This was agreed on yesterday in Norway in talks between Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai and his Norwegian counterpart; it was reported today in Jerusalem.

Israel has approached Oslo on the oil issue in the past but was turned down on the grounds that Norway’s total oil production is earmarked under other long-term contracts. According to press reports, Washington has applied pressure on Norway to show more flexibility on the issue. It is also believed that the Norwegian readiness to discuss oil with Israel is based on the continuing development of the North Sea fields.

Sources in the Energy Ministry said last night that Israel plans to approach other oil suppliers as well as Norway. The need to find new supplies has become more urgent in light of the impending return of the Alma oil fields to Egypt.

Observers contend as well that Modai’s success in talks with his Norwegian counterpart was at best limited. They note that Modai did not succeed in getting real concessions from the Norwegians but received only an obscure promise about future talks.

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