The Israeli government has declared development of natural gas to be an issue of national security in a move aimed at easing an antitrust logjam in place since last December.
The security cabinet voted unanimously on June 25 to take administrative steps sidestepping a review by Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo into whether holdings in large gas fields offshore Israel by Delek Group and Noble Energy Inc. constitute a “restrictive agreement” under Israeli law.
Gilo’s study stymied gas development, most importantly of giant, deepwater Leviathan field. Allocation of future Leviathan supply between domestic and export markets is one of several controversies related to offshore gas development in Israel (OGJ Online, Feb. 20, 2015).
The security cabinet move allows the government to consider a compromise agreement under which Delek and Avner Oil Exploration, a subsidiary, would sell their interests in producing Tamar gas field within 6 years as well as their holdings in smaller, nonproducing Karish and Tanin fields.
Noble Energy would reduce its interests in area fields but remain operator.
The compromise deal awaits approval by the full cabinet.