Israel has right to raise take on gas finds -finmin

TEL AVIV, Oct 19 (BestGrowthStock) – Israel has the right to raise
the goverment take from natural gas and oil discoveries, Finance
Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Tuesday, adding it will balance
the needs of energy companies and the public.

There has been much debate over how much the government will
benefit from the potential cash windfall from the recent
discovery of natural gas deposits in Israeli waters, and many
companies are worried about a large cut in future profits.

Steinitz had formed a committee to decide whether there is
room to raise the level of royalties and taxation that for
decades has remained low compared with those levied by other
developed countries with oil and gas.

“If the country didn’t pay attention and behaved
irresponsibly for 60 years and didn’t deal with this issue, then
it’s my job as finance minister to take care of it,” Steinitz
said at an energy conference in Tel Aviv.

“I accept that whoever invested and explored and knew and
took chances needs to enjoy a reasonable and worthy profit …
but the citizens of Israel also need to enjoy the natural
treasures and discoveries of gas and oil,” he said.

Companies that have already made huge investments are crying
foul and are calling it a potential game-changer.

U.S.-based Noble Energy (NBL.N: ), which leads the group that
made the largest natural gas find in 2009 at the Tamar offshore
site, has even threatened to take Israel to the International
Court of Justice should it break any agreements.

Steinitz said that many developed countries, including the
United States, have raised their government take in recent years
and that he did not believe any court in the world would say
Israel could not to do what others have done.

Steinitz said a final decision was due after he gets
a recommendation from the finance ministry committee, which will
present an intermediate report in the middle of November.
(Writing by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Michael Shields)

Israel has right to raise take on gas finds -finmin