Win secured for Israeli gas

Drilling partners plan for rapid development of Leviathan natural gas field.

By Daniel J. Graeber

TEL AVIV, Israel, May 23 (UPI) -- Partners aiming to exploit the rich natural gas reserves offshore Israel said they would take the steps needed for rapid development after a government nod.

The Israeli Cabinet during the weekend approved revisions to a plan for the development of the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a historic step for the nation's economy.


The Israeli government gave its consent to revised operational plans after a previous arrangement was struck down early this year by the Israeli Supreme Court. Noble Energy and its partners working to tap gas reserves offshore were notified in March by the court that a deal with the government was unconstitutional, a ruling consistent with past concerns about competition.

Netanyahu's government in December signed off on the regulatory framework necessary to develop the reserves. Leviathan and the nearby Tamar field combine for an estimated 28 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, with Leviathan accounting for more than half of the aggregate.

The court's earlier ruling was a blow to Netanyahu, who said the full development of offshore natural gas reserves would be "for the benefit of the citizens of Israel."


In response to the government's weekend decision, Noble and its partners said they would "continue the investments and actions required for the rapid development of the Leviathan field and planning the additional extension of the production facilities of the Tamar project."

Israeli has tried to broker delivery gas deals with its counterparts in the region. Provided any unforeseen complications, field development is expected to get underway before the end of the decade.

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