Israel has tons of natural gas offshore, but for Israeli households, it's the wrong kind of gas – and the gas they need, propane heating and cooking fuel, is in very short supply these days. Due to recent fierce storms in the Mediterranean – the same storms that dumped snowfall and rainfall on most of the country over the past two weeks – ships carrying the liquefied petroleum gas which is refined into propane and butane gas for household purposes are way behind schedule, with the result that the Haifa refinery that manufactures gas for household use cannot keep up with orders.
As a result, there is a severe shortage of gas around the country, and many companies have begun rationing it – to the extent that many households with gas heating systems are not getting enough to heat their homes or hot water. The problem is especially acute in Jerusalem, where many households use gas to provide heat and hot water, as the solar water heaters used in most of the country are ineffective, especially in the winter.
In order to alleviate the shortage, the Haifa refinery distributed gas directly to consumers over the weekend. A gas company executive said that the shortage was seasonal, but that much of the imported gas was being sold to Palestinian Authority gas suppliers, resulting in a shortage for Israeli consumers. However, the executive said, the shortage in the PA was even worse than in Israel, and PA gas suppliers are desperately seeking sources of gas in Israel.
Among those suffering from the gas shortage are Knesset members, with the Knesset heated by gas. Fortunately for them, the parliament is in recess ahead of the upcoming elections.