JERUSALEM (JTA) — Natural gas started to flow from a Tamar field that is expected to meet Israel’s domestic needs for at least the next 20 years.
The gas, which began flowing from an offshore rig in the Mediterranean Sea, was expected to reach an intake center in Ashdod in southern Israel on Sunday afternoon.
Some 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is believed to be contained in the field off the coast of northern Israel near Haifa.
"This is an important day for the Israeli economy," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday night. "On the Festival of Freedom, we are taking an important step toward energy independence. We have advanced the natural gas sector in Israel over the last decade, which will be good for the Israeli economy and for all Israelis."
The gas will be used for the generation of electricity at power stations, which will increase its availability and allow for lower prices. Electricity prices rose 24 percent in recent years, in part due to the depletion of the Yam Tatis gas field located west of Ashdod.
The Tamar field was discovered in 2009. It is located next to the larger Leviathan gas field, which has yet to yield gas, and will be used mostly for export.
Israel has been facing a natural gas crisis since the gas flow from Egypt was disrupted by terror attacks on the gas line to Israel located in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel has not received gas from Egypt since 2011. Egypt recently canceled its natural gas contract with Israel.