JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved exporting 40 percent of Israel's newfound natural gas reserves, keeping a larger amount for local consumption than originally expected.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet the decision struck a balance between domestic needs and the concerns of the exploration companies that will drill for gas underneath the Mediterranean Sea.
"It ensures the needs of the citizens of the state of Israel, both by filling the state coffers with considerable funds from exports and by supplying the local market with cheap energy," Netanyahu said.
Last year, an advisory panel proposed exporting just over half of the country's gas, sparking protests by Israelis who said the country should keep most of its reserves to reduce energy prices at home.
Israel began pumping gas from the large Tamar field off its coast earlier this year. It is expected to begin exporting when a second, larger field goes online in 2016.
The consortium that has developed the fields, led by U.S. company Noble Energy, did not immediately comment on Sunday's decision. In the past, it has said it would have preferred the larger export levels.
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