Anti-Trust Authority calls for breakup of Israel gas consortium

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Anti-Trust Authority has recommended the break-up of a consortium of two energy companies developing Israel’s largest gas fields.

The decision, which is subject to a hearing and an official ruling, said U.S. company Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group have a monopoly on natural gas production in Israel. The decision calls on the group to sell their shares in either the Leviathan or Tamar oil fields, or break up their partnership.

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Anat Cohen at The Sheldon

Leviathan, discovered in 2010 in the Mediterranean Sea west of Haifa, is estimated to hold 16 trillion to 18 trillion cubic feet of gas. It was expected to become operational in 2016, a date which could be pushed off several years by the decision, according to reports.

Israel has signed a memorandum of understanding with Jordan to supply $15 billion worth of natural gas from Leviathan over 15 years, and has also inked understandings with an Egyptian and a Palestinian firm.

Tamar, which has at least 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, is expected to meet Israel’s energy needs for the next 20 years.

Noble Energy Israel Country Manager Binyamin Zomer said in a statement that the Anti-Trust Authority’s decision “casts a shadow over the future of Israel’s gas and oil sector and influences Noble Energy’s continued investment in the country.”

“To date, we have invested with our partners close to $6 billion in developing the country’s oil and gas sector,” the statement said. “These investments contribute to the Israeli economy and environment, and at the same time grant Israel energy independence while providing an opportunity for regional cooperation and contributing to regional stability.”