Russians eye Israel's natural gas

Nov. 19, 2010 at 7:36 AM
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MOSCOW, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Russian gas monopoly Gazprom aims to set up a joint venture with Israel to explore the country's continental shelf, a top executive said.

Preliminary estimates indicate the Leviathan prospect about 84 miles off the northern coast of Israel holds as much as 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

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.

Stanislav Tsygankov, a foreign relations executive at Gazprom, was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying the gas monopoly wants a 50 percent claim in any Israeli deal.

"We are planning to establish a joint venture where Gazprom will participate in the shelf's development," he said. "We are planning to buy a 50 percent stake."

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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