Leviathan Partners: Size of Israeli Gas Field 16% Bigger Than Estimates

Shares in partner companies rally in Sunday trading in Tel Aviv on news.

Eran Azran
Drilling platform of the Leviathan natural gas field.
Drilling platform of the Leviathan natural gas field.Credit: Albatross
Eran Azran

The size of natural gas reserves in Israel’s Leviathan offshore natural-gas field is 16.4% bigger than previously estimated, partners in the field said on Sunday.

Based on an updated analysis by consultant Netherland Sewall & Associates, the reserves’ “best estimate” was increased to 21.93 trillion cubic feet (620 billion cubic meters) from 18.91 tcf. The high estimate was raised by 10% to 26.52 tcf, while the low estimate was increased by 11% to 16.58 tcf.

As a result, the value of the field is now estimated to be worth between 10 billion shekels and 15 billion shekels ($2.9 billion to $4.4 billion) more than previously estimated. It was the second time the estimates of the size of the field, and its value, were raised. In May 2013 the estimated size of the reserves was raised by more than 18%.

“The dramatic increase in Leviathan’s gas reserves gives a wide range of export options and bases Israel’s position as a leading player in the international energy map with gas reserves of 1,000 billion cubic metres,” Delek Drilling CEO Yossi Abu said.

Discovered in 2010 off Israel’s Mediterranean coast, Leviathan is the world’s largest offshore gas find in the past decade and is expected to provide the country with greater energy independence. Production is slated to begin in 2017. The increases follows expansion of Leviathan’s database, including 3-D seismic surveys and laboratory analyses.

The news caused shares in the Leviathan partners to rally in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange trading. Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration, each with a 22.7% stake, closed up 1.8% to 19.50 shekels and 1.3% to 3.51 shekels, respectively. Their parent company, Yitzhak Tshuav’s Delek Group, added 1.7% to 1.38 shekels. Ratio Oil Exploration, with a 15% holding, rose 3.1% to 50 agorot. Texas-based Noble Energy is the field’s operator and holds a 39.66% share in Leviathan.

NSAI estimates that the field holds 39.4 million barrels of condensate, which is used to make petroleum products, up from 34.1 million.

Israel has decided to permit exports of up to 40% of the gas reserves. Last month, the partners in Leviathan said they had signed a preliminary agreement with British oil and gas company BG Group to export gas to BG’s liquefied natural gas plant in Idku, Egypt. A Spanish company with an LNG plant in Egypt signed a similar agreement weeks before.

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