Israel creates new oil company to replace former Israel-Iran joint venture

Oil reservoir in Eilat (Wikimedia Commons/Chaver83).
Oil reservoir in Eilat (Wikimedia Commons/Chaver83).

Censorship laws will carry over from the old organisation, with a fifteen year sentence for violation.

Reuters is reporting that the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has allowed Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co (EAPC) and a new national oil company, Europe Asia Pipeline Co (EAPC-B), to continue to operate secretly.

Information about the companies is exempt from usual reporting legislation and any information that is released must pass through a military censor.

EAPC was created as a joint venture between Iran and Israel to export Iranian oil to the Mediterranean via Israel. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Israel nationalised the company and maintained its secrecy. According to The Times of Israel, breaching the gag order has a penalty of 15 years in prison.

The policy was criticised after a 2014 oil spill resulted in 5,000 cubic meters of jet fuel being released into a nature reserve. Israel’s Supreme Court relaxed censorship to allow environmental and safety issues to be scrutinised.

A Swiss court confirmed an order for Israel to pay Iran over $1 billion in 2016 to compensate for lost revenue. Israel has refused, citing laws that prohibit funds going to enemy states.

Oil reservoir in Eilat (Wikimedia Commons/Chaver83).