TEL AVIV, Israel, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The Leviathan gas field, one of the largest in the world, is open to market access following an Israeli regulatory decision, Noble Energy said.
The government on Thursday signed off on the regulatory framework necessary to develop the reserves off the coast of Israeli.
"The natural gas framework establishes the regulatory certainty and stability necessary to proceed with development of both the Tamar expansion and Leviathan, while providing transparency for future domestic pricing and natural gas competition in Israel," Noble Energy said in a statement. "The natural gas framework also enables marketing of Leviathan gas to Israeli customers for the first time."
Leviathan and Tamar combine for an estimated 28 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, with Leviathan accounting for more than half of the aggregate.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the full development of offshore natural gas reserves would be "for the benefit of the citizens of Israel."
Antitrust authorities in Israel ruled Noble and its partners at Israeli energy company Delek Group controlled all of the gas reservoirs off the nation's coast. A compromise deal from 2014 called on Noble and Delek to sell their stakes in the Karish and Tanin fields off the coast of Israel, which combine for an average 20.5 trillion cubic feet of reserves, in exchange for maintaining their holdings in Leviathan and Tamar.
With the framework in place, Noble said it was planning for final investment decision on offshore development before the end of 2016.
"The high quality of the Tamar and Leviathan reservoirs, combined with Noble Energy's strong track record of major project execution, gives us confidence that these world-class assets are well positioned to meet the growing and undersupplied natural gas demand of Israeli and regional customers," Keith Elliot, a Noble vice president in charge of the region, said in a statement.