GAS Wars – Russia vs. Israel

Two natural gas company servicemen, a senior training supervisor and a young trainee, were out checking meters in a suburban neighborhood. They parked their truck at the end of the alley and worked their way to the other end. At the last house, a woman looking out her kitchen window, watched the two men as they checked her gas meter.  Finishing the meter check, the senior supervisor challenged his younger co-worker to a foot race down the alley and back to the truck to prove that an older guy could outrun a younger one. As they came running up to the truck, they realized the lady from that last house was huffing and puffing right behind them. They stopped and asked her what was wrong.  Gasping for breath, she replied, “When I see two gas men running as hard as you two were, I figured I’d better run too!”

If you think Vladimir Putin has enough worries on his plate dealing with – the Sochi Olympics, the Ukraine uprising, the Chechnia terrorists, the declining Ruble, etc., think again.   A far greater source of trouble for him is brewing  out in the Mediterranean Sea, one that could undermine not only Putin’s efforts to rebuild Russia’s influence in the Middle East, but also his current strong hand in Europe.The threat: Israel’s recently discovered offshore gas deposits, one of the largest energy finds in recent history.  Those fields, dubbed Tamar and Leviathan, promise the Jewish State an unprecedented degree of energy independence and a lucrative export market; not only to Egypt and Jordan, but also to Europe – which would then in turn threaten Russian energy giant Gazprom’s current dominance of the European gas market, which is  the lynchpin there of Putin’s control.  Gazprom provides Europe with one-quarter of its natural gas needs and that requirement is only going to grow.  Europeans know they pay Gazprom a significant premium for natural gas (2 ½ times what Canadians pay) and that Russia’s not afraid to use its gas exports to get its own way, as when Putin severed the supply lines to Ukraine in 2009.  Thus since the Greens won’t let Europeans extract their own natural gas reserves through fracking, countries of the European Union have been resigned to letting Putin hold this gas trump card over their energy needs and their economies.

This is where Israel enters the picture.  Its spectacular offshore gas finds at Tamar and Leviathan now threaten to take away Russia’s economic caviar.  Although their reserves are not nearly as large as Russia’s, the demands of just 6 million Israelis are minuscule, so the bulk of future development is free to go abroad.  This would be manna from heaven for the gas-starved European Union.  And it promises to be a political bonus by turning the Jewish state from an habitual European international punching bag into their would-be saviour.  This has Gazprom, which gets 40 percent of its revenues from Europe, worried – and Putin, too.  And Israel exporting gas to Egypt, Jordan, and even the Palestinians (a contract has already been signed) will help smooth the Jewish State’s relations with its neighbours – more bad news for a Russia that has always preferred to fish in waters roiled by Middle East chaos.

The Russians are already making their move to protect their European energy cash cow.  President Putin recently invited and welcomed Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to Moscow for an official state visit (something unheard of until now).  There “Vlad” basically offered “Bibi” the following: “Look, my dear Jewish friend, when it comes to mining and exporting natural gas, we Russians already have the expertise and the equipment.  So let us basically do it for you at cost and save you a fortune.  The only thing we ask in return is that you send your gas east to Asia and not West to Europe.  This way, we both win.  And to sweeten the pot, we’ll get your northern neighbours, the Syrians, to give up all of their chemical weapons and we’ll get your Persian foe, the Iranians, to open up their nuclear reactors for international inspections.”

This offer has caused a great debate in Israel.  To those for whom the bottom line is everything, the choice is simple – forget Europe, take the money and run.  But to those who have long memories of Soviet pogroms against Jews, the choice is also clear – ship the gas to Europe and thereby really stick it to Moscow.

Bible prophecy scholars see all of this as an end-time fulfillment of Ezekiel 38:4,12.  There, Russia is pictured as a bear having a hook put in its jaw and unwillingly drawn south to having to deal with a reborn Israel.

And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy  jaw, and bring thee forth … to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, and which have gotten goods.

The bottom line?  Mr. Putin should enjoy the Olympic games that the fine Russian people are putting on, but when they are over he may be having some real gas pains – and not the kind that Tums can solve.