Chinese Company Looking to Buy 2 Delek Gas Fields

In accordance with a government plan, Delek has 14 months to find a buyer for the undeveloped Tanin and Karish fields, which have combined gas reserves of 3 trillion cubic feet.

Energy Minister Silvan Shalom, right, and Yitzhak Tshuva, the controlling shareholder of Delek Group, on a drilling rig, March 27, 2013.
Moshe Binyamin

REUTERS - Chinese investment group Fosun International is interested in buying two small natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean from Israel's Delek Group, a source close to Delek said on Tuesday.

Delek, which controls a number of gas fields offshore Israel, is being forced to sell off some assets by the government in an effort to open the sector to new competition.

According to a government plan expected to be implemented in the coming weeks, the company will have fourteen months to find a buyer for the undeveloped Tanin and Karish fields, which have combined gas reserves of 3 trillion cubic feet.

"Fosun is interested in the two fields," the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

A spokesperson for Fosun and officials at Delek declined to comment.

It would not be the first big deal between the companies. In June, Fosun bought a controlling stake in insurer Phoenix Holdings from Delek for 1.8 billion shekels ($464.12 million).

Already in the race is Italian utility Edison, which has entered talks to buy Tanin and Karish, and last month Israel's energy minister discussed a possible sale with the CEO of rival Italian group ENI.

Earlier this month Delek paid its partner Noble Energy $67 million for the rights to sell Noble's 47 percent stake in the two fields. ($1 = 3.8783 shekels)