An Israeli gas exploration group, led by the Isramco Negev and Modiin Energy companies, announced on Sunday that it had found signs of a massive natural gas reserve off Israel’s Mediterranean shore, comparable in size to the Tamar field.

The reserve, estimated to contain some 8.9 trillion cubic feet, was revealed in the companies’ resource report.

“We are excited at the potential that has been revealed for finding gas in the Daniel East and Daniel West licenses. This potential is of a significant size, which, if realized, could represent competition for existing reserves, and improve the country’s energy security,” said Ron Maor, CEO of Modiin Energy.

“Together with our partners we will carry out drilling to test the potential prospects as soon as possible. We hope that the State of Israel will encourage further activity in the potential gas reserves in the Daniel East and Daniel West fields,” he said.

Sunday’s announcement comes in the wake of last month’s signing by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of a controversial deal with gas companies developing the Leviathan and Tamar fields.

Netanyahu was only able to sign the deal by invoking a never-before-used clause to override an antitrust ruling against the agreement by declaring it an issue of national security.

The deal paved the way for a consortium comprising Noble Energy and the Delek Group to begin work on extracting gas from the massive Leviathan field, which is thought to contain some 22 trillion cubic feet of gas, and is expected to transform the country into a regional energy powerhouse.

Many activists and politicians fought the deal, which they say is deeply flawed and will create a monopoly in the gas market that will lead to higher prices for Israeli consumers.

Activists reacted soberly to the new find announced Sunday, saying that “although the news of the potential of the gas reserves is great, it is still far from being termed a ‘discovery.'”

The report “is based on data from seismic surveys only and not actual drilling results,” according to a statement from an umbrella organization representing several groups of activists. The statement urged “the public, investors and decision makers to await the outcome of these newly discovered wells, and to avoid hasty decisions before the facts are clarified.”

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.