April 14, 2013:
Two weeks ago Israel began pumping natural gas from offshore deposits discovered during the last five years. Israeli firms have found about $200 billion worth of oil and gas there so far. Israel is determined to use these finds to achieve energy independence within two years. But first the offshore facilities and pipelines have to be defended from terrorists and military threats.
A special military force has been established to protect the offshore facilities. A defense system is being built (at a cost of $700 million) in and around the facilities and shore installations. It will cost $100 million a year to man and maintain these defenses. Some of the offshore gas wells are within range of rockets fired from Gaza or southern Lebanon (where Hezbollah does as it wants). The rockets are not accurate enough to hit a gas well, unless dozens (or more) were fired at once (after that Israeli air power will be all over the launch sits). Hezbollah could also use their more accurate C-802 anti-ship missiles (range 120 kilometers). This is a Chinese weapon that Iran produces its own version of. It’s a 6.8 meter (21 foot) long, 360mm diameter, 682 kg (1,500 pound) missile with a 165kg (360 pound) warhead. It can be jammed or intercepted, but equipping the offshore platforms with these devices and manning them 24/7 is expensive.
Israel is not discussing the details of its offshore oil field defenses. That’s standard procedure when it comes to defending something so vulnerable against a lot of unpredictable threats. Israel is known to produce a wide range of sensors and military defensive systems. Much of this stuff is probably in use to defend the offshore gas fields. Israeli warships and patrol boats are regularly seen around the offshore gas operations.