Noble discusses Leviathan gas development offshore Israel

Noble Energy Inc. expects first-phase development of Leviathan offshore natural gas field will provide initial production of as much as 750 MMcfd for Israel via a northern entry point in 2016.

Project partners plan additional capacity for exports via pipeline, onshore LNG, or floating LNG as early as 2018. A Mesozoic oil prospect below the Leviathan gas discovery is planned to be spud in late 2013, Noble executives said Dec. 6 during a fourth-quarter update.

Recently, Noble Energy Mediterranean, Delek Drilling LP, Avner Oil & Gas Exploration LP, and Ratio Oil Exploration LP agreed that Woodside Petroleum Ltd. can buy into the 349/Rachel and 30/Amit licenses containing Leviathan gas field (OGJ Online, Dec. 3, 2012).

After closing, Woodside would acquire a 30% interest in the field, estimated to contain 17 tcf of gas gross. Terms call for Woodside to be included in other exploration opportunities in the licenses.

Charles Davidson, Noble’s chief executive officer, said the Leviathan project needed a partner having LNG development and marketing experience.

“We had to acknowledge that we didn’t have that expertise,” Davidson said during a Dec. 6 media briefing. Noble will continue to operate the upstream portion of the project, he said. Under the agreement, Woodside would operate any LNG development in the Leviathan permits.

Meanwhile, Israel is developing laws authorizing gas exports. Leviathan partners await such a law before making a final investment decision on an LNG export project.

In another project offshore Israel, Noble expects Tamar gas field will come on stream during April 2013. Sales for the remainder of 2013 following first production are expected to average 700 MMcfd with a peak capacity of nearly 1 bcfd.

Leviathan and Tamar production will boost gas supplies for Israel where gas demand is on the rise. Meanwhile, Israel no longer plans to receive gas from Egypt as previously negotiated.

“The thinking now in Israel is that they have to supply their own natural gas and not depend on anybody else,” Davidson said.

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