Noble begins drilling Leviathan gas prospect off Israel

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 19 -- A consortium led by Noble Energy Inc. has begun drilling at its Leviathan natural gas prospect in the eastern Mediterranean, according to one of the partners in the group.

Delek Drilling, in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, said a rig arrived at the Leviathan site, 135 km off northern Israeli, and began drilling in 1.6 km of water. Delek said the drilling is expected to reach a final depth of 7.2 km and will last about 5 months.

The group, which has reported the possibility of finding oil under the gas, earlier estimated Leviathan's reserves at 16 tcf of gas and gave the project a 50% geologic chance of success (OGJ Online, Aug. 9, 2010).

Last month, Noble sanctioned the $3 billion development of Tamar gas field in the Levant basin in the eastern Mediterranean off Israel and expects gas delivery to begin about yearend 2012.

Tamar, with an estimated 8.4 tcf of recoverable gas in 5,500 ft of water, is to be developed with five subsea wells capable of flowing 200-250 MMcfd/well of gas (OGJ Online, Sept. 24, 2010).

Analyst BMI noted that while the Tamar development is expected to provide a new source of gas for Israel for the foreseeable future, “attention is on Leviathan as a potential source of further domestic insurance and a resource that could give Israel the option to export gas to neighboring states or further afield.”

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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