TEL AVIV, Israel, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Partners behind one of the larger natural gas fields off the coast of Israel unveiled plans to start formal production operations in roughly three years.
Delek Drilling Ltd. and Avner Oil Exploration Ltd. said their boards have approved a development plan for the Leviathan natural gas field. Delek CEO Asaf Bartfeld said the agreement "will allow us meet the group's target of first gas from Leviathan to the Israeli market and to countries in the region by the end of 2019."
A work plan for the first stage of development calls for about 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day through an investment of between $3.5 billion and $4 billion.
Delek this year was forced to defend its development plans for Leviathan after a report from the Israeli government said that, after a review from independent analysts, the field could support production of about 20 percent less than Delek and its partners had estimated.
A good portion of the gas reserves in Leviathan are designated for exports.
In September, a Jordanian power company agreed to a take-or-pay scheme tied to the Leviathan field. That agreement was worth an estimated $10 billion and was the first such agreement for the Leviathan field.
In early December, the Leviathan partners said they reached an agreement with Dalia, the largest private power plant in Israel, to supply fuel for up to 20 years once production at the field begins.
The Leviathan partners said that, in their opinion, cumulative revenue for the sales agreement "is likely to come to $2 billion," assuming Dalia takes on the full amount of gas outlined in the terms of the deal.