The Israeli Ministry of Finance and the state-owned company EAPC (Europe Asia Pipeline Company Ltd) are promoting plans to turn the seaport of Eilat into a giant oil terminal.
According to the plan, hundreds of millions of tons of crude oil from the Persian Gulf will be transported through the Eilat port and old oil pipeline to the Mediterranean Sea. The oil will be shipped on hundreds of huge oil tankers to the Gulf of Aqaba, transferred there to an old pipeline and conveyed across Israel’s Negev to the Ashkelon oil terminal on the Mediterranean coast, to be loaded onto other huge oil tankers.
The plan spells the destruction of Eilat’s coral reef, for the sake of ‘black money’ which the EAPC and Israel’s Finance Ministry are blindly seeking. An oil spill from a tanker or pipeline – whether accidental or intentional – would cause an environmental disaster, the likes of which the Red Sea coasts have yet to see.
The approaching disaster is not a matter of if, but when. The EAPC is already responsible for extensive oil spills, some of which caused severe harm to sensitive nature reserves. Oil-related tragedies across the world point to the magnitude of this catastrophe if the plan were to move forward.
In this time of climate crisis, we cannot risk the destruction of the coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba by another oil disaster. As result of natural selection, the corals in the Gulf of Aqaba are more resistant to thermal bleaching (the deadly impact of sea water temperature rise on corals), which has already destroyed major parts of the world’s coral reefs. This resistance makes the Gulf of Aqaba a potential planetary refuge region for corals from thermal bleaching, if protected from pollution.
Environmental organizations and local activists are taking action to prevent this disaster. Sign the petition today: Together we will stop oil shipping though Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat. The consequences cannot be stressed enough: If the oil pipeline plans are implemented, a major oil spill could wipe out this refuge place for world corals; would cause the shutdown of desalination plans, the main source of drinking water in the region, and would put at risk billions of dollars of investments in tourism on the beaches along the Gulf of Aqaba (Sinai and Eilat), which are the main livelihood for thousands of families.
We call upon the Israeli government to replace the black oil deals with projects of clean energy and sustainable water supply in regional grids, that will increase the region’s resiliency to climate change impacts.
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The “Med Red Land Bridge” agreement with Israel’s EAPC will bring dozens of huge oil tankers to Eilat and Ashkelon every year and transport oil along the Arava and Negev regions, putting the area at risk of oil spills and contamination.
According to the agreement between the EAPC and Med-Red L.B (ltd) 70 huge tankers of crude oil will discharge oil every year at the EAPC dock, located near the Eilat Coral Beach Nature Reserve. Oil will be transported through old pipelines running along the Arava and Negev regions to the Ashkelon port, and from there transported by oil tankers across Europe.
The agreement exposes the joint bay of Eilat (Israel) and Aqaba (Jordan), as well as the shoreline in Sinai (Egypt), to the colossal threat of oil spills, whether accidental or intentional. It also places in jeopardy areas along the route of the pipelines and the shores of the Mediterranean. A disaster is only a matter of time.
Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry is ill prepared for handling oil calamities. Immense harm could be caused to the coral reef – a rare natural gem – as well as the tourism industry. Israel, Jordan and Egypt have each invested hundreds of millions of dollars in constructing thousands of hotel rooms and new airports. These and other efforts will be erased in the event of severe water contamination, which will ruin the beautiful beaches and destroy tourism.
The coral reef at the northern tip of the Red Sea is a unique natural phenomenon. The corals’ genetics make them immune to bleaching and climate change effects, hence their significance not just locally but also globally. The corals are our underwater tropical forests, a tourist attraction situated at the heart of the region’s natural world. Oil spills would spell their extinction.
Several natural disasters have already occurred along EAPC’s pipeline between Eilat and Ashkelon, recently in Evrona and previously in Wadi Zin and elsewhere. Increasing the amount of oil transported through the pipeline further exposes nature reserves and other sensitive territories to oil contamination, from which nature may never recover. In the 1970s the oil terminal that operated then in Eilat caused heavy damages to the coral reef.
The plan will jeopardize the shorelines of the Mediterranean. It is not only Ashdod and Ashkelon that would be affected but – depending on the size of the oil spill, on weather conditions and air streams – it could hit other shorelines as well. A severe event of contamination will also cause damage to water desalination plants, which are today Israel’s main source of water. Thousands of businesses located along the shore depend on clean marine waters as well.
Additional threats include the additional number of oil tankers potentially causing “traffic jams” near Eilat and along Sinai’s beaches; and residents and tourists in Eilat and Ashkelon suffering from air pollution and noxious odors released from the oil’s storage and transportation.
Almost every year there is a natural disaster as result of oil spills, in 2020 it was on the wonderful shores and reefs of Mauritius. We must not allow a similar disaster to take place in the Red Sea, nor the Mediterranean. Help us protect the coral reefs, turn Eilat into a global powerhouse of solar energy (not a fossil fuel hub), and protect the Mediterranean and Israel’s southern region.