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Major gas find off Israeli coast

Dec. 30, 2010 at 7:08 AM

HOUSTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A discovery at the Leviathan natural gas field off the coast of Israel could be a significant boost to the region, a U.S. energy company declared.

Noble Energy announced a "significant" gas discovery at the Leviathan field about 80 miles off the coast of Haifa in the deep waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Drilling at Leviathan encountered more than 220 feet of hydrocarbons.

"The results from the well confirm the pre-drill estimated resource range, with a gross mean for Leviathan of 16 trillion cubic feet," the company announced.

Noble Energy executives said the discovery at Leviathan is the largest ever for the company.

"This discovery has the potential to position Israel as a natural gas exporting nation," Nobel Energy President David Stover said in a statement.

The potential at Leviathan follows the 2009 discovery of the Tamar gas field off the Israeli coast, which holds around 8 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Lebanon contends that a portion of Leviathan lies within its maritime borders.

Hezbollah has told Israel not to touch its resources, spurring threats of retaliation from the Israelis.

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