Israel reaches deal with natural gas consortium

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel said it has reached a deal with a consortium of companies over the development of several off-shore natural gas fields.

The agreement will be brought to the Cabinet for its approval on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an announcement Thursday.

Under the deal, the Israeli Delek group and the Texas-based Noble Energy will develop the largest gas field, Leviathan, and reduce its holdings in other gas fields. The agreement also will regulate the price of natural gas during the development period, which ends in 2020.

Netanyahu said the deal will “bring Israel’s citizens hundreds of billions of shekels in the coming years, hundreds of billions of shekels. This money will serve us in health, education and social welfare.” He credited National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz for brokering the agreement.

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In December, Israel’s Anti-Trust Authority recommended the breakup of the consortium over monopoly fears, angering the companies, which have spent billions of dollars on exploration and development.

Leviathan, discovered in 2010 in the Mediterranean Sea west of Haifa, is estimated to hold 16 trillion to 18 trillion cubic feet of gas. The Tamar field, which has at least 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, is expected to meet Israel’s energy needs for the next 20 years.

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