Excerpts from the joint press conference by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, 7 June 2016
Question: Mr Netanyahu, this question is for you. Until recently our oil and gas companies, in particular Gazprom, had been expressing interest in participating in energy projects in Israel. However, everything came to a halt during preliminary discussions, including due to legislative restrictions in Israel.
I would like to hear from you, as the head of government, whether Israel is interested in having Russian energy companies and what it is willing to do to attract them, particularly in terms of legislation.
I have a short question on energy for you too, Mr President, if I may. What has become of our projects for delivering energy resources across the Black Sea? Are there any prospects of seeing them implemented, or has this issue been closed for good? Also, what do you think about the statement made by Poland, which decided not to renew its gas contract with us?
Vladimir Putin: What do the Jewish people have to do with that?
There are no legal restrictions on Russian companies participating in gas projects in Israel. What really limited and slowed down our participation in gas field development projects with all the companies was the time it took to adopt the decision which allowed us to expand and develop our gas fields, regardless of the company. We managed to resolve this problem, so our door is now open to all companies from all countries that have vast experience in developing gas fields, including, of course, Russia.
We had a project to deliver Russian gas to Israel, and we discussed it with our partners from Israel. However, after our Israeli friends discovered their own gas off the shelf, this project fell through, which is natural. That said, energy cooperation is possible. One project — a small but good one — is to switch public transport in Israel to liquefied natural gas.
Israel has made enormous technological strides in this regard. We will benefit from this cooperation by implementing this technology in Russia. However, we are examining possible cooperation in other areas as well. Everything is possible.
With regard to export routes across the Black Sea, there are certain well-known difficulties of a political nature with Turkey. However, we have not abandoned any of the projects, neither the South Stream, nor the Turkish Stream. What we need is a clear, understandable, and unambiguous position from the European Commission. We do not have that yet for any of these projects.
With regard to Poland not renewing the gas contract with us, our partners — economic agents at the corporate level — have not said anything on that account yet. However, the statement that you are referring to was made by a high-level government official, and the company that purchases our gas is run by the state, so we believe that this is possible.
Gazprom, as Chairman of the Board of Gazprom Mr Miller told me yesterday, is exploring possibilities and plans to make an offer, in the near future, to other prospective partners (Polish, European, or any other for that matter) to buy this gas from us at the Belarusian-Polish border after the contract with Poland expires, by signing a new contract for 10–15 years.
These could be Polish, German, Austrian, Italian, or French companies – it does not really matter. Someone, I believe, will buy gas from us. If not, we will start looking for other markets, no big deal. Perhaps, the Israelis will buy this gas from us and sell it to Poland – this is also an option. (laughter)