Israel's offshore gas reserves poised to rise

Israel’s reserves of natural gas, now under development in the country’s Mediterranean offshore, are poised to rise substantially in the near future, according to a senior government official.

“Israel’s potential gas discoveries stand at 1,000 billion cu m,” said Israel Natural Gas Authority Director-General Yehosua Stern, adding that Israel's proven gas reserves amount to 300 bcm, most of it in the offshore Tamar field.

However, Stern told delegates at a conference on energy and the environment that the reserves figure is expected to rise by a further 453 bcm after production tests are completed at Leviathan field.

Stern also told conference delegates that he expects an additional 550 bcm of gas to be discovered in Israeli economic waters, which eventually will bring the country's total reserves to 1,300 bcm.

“In 2014-15 there will be an additional entry from Tamar to Israel in the Ashkelon region,” said Stern, who also noted that “an additional supplier will come into the Israeli gas market around 2016-17.”

Stern’s remarks coincided with reports that Dolphin 1 partners Noble Energy Inc., Delek Group Ltd., and Ratio Oil Exploration LP found “clear signs” of gas at the Dolphin 1 exploratory well in the Hanna license.

The Jerusalem Post reported that preliminary results found 550 bcf of gas in the Hanna license, and that the gas-bearing strata are in the Tamar sands at a depth of 4,440 m in 1,560 m of water 110 km west of Haifa.

Noble Energy owns 39.66% of Hanna, Delek Group units Avner Oil & Gas LP and Delek Drilling LP each own 22.67%, and Ratio owns 15%.

Stern’s remarks follow statements by other government officials who said Israel and neighboring Cyprus stand ready to cooperate on a joint project to tap potentially huge offshore gas deposits.

“We can cooperate in generating this newfound energy, and use it for the benefit of the entire region,” said Israel’s President Shimon Peres, who added that the two countries have “substantial economic cooperation potential” with the discovery of gas in the Mediterranean.

Houston's Noble Energy Co., which discovered the gas offshore Israel, is also exploring offshore Cyprus and is confident that the Leviathan field extends into Cypriot waters—a discovery that is changing how the region is viewed.

“What we’re seeing now is a redrawing of the strategic terrain in the eastern Mediterranean,” said James Ker-Lindsay, a specialist in Turkey and Cyprus at the London School of Economics.

Focus on the region’s hydrocarbons picked up in 2010 when the US Geological Survey said that the Levant basin, which covers waters off Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Cyprus, contains 122 tcf of gas and as much as 4 billion bbl of oil.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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