Israel finds more gas – but will it be extracted?

If the numbers work out, the Royee field will be a distant third in size to the Leviathan and Tamar fields. Israel may have a glut of natural gas

Gas rigs in the Tamar field, off the coast of Israel, in June 2014. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Gas rigs in the Tamar field, off the coast of Israel, in June 2014. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

To Israel’s growing family of offshore gas fields, add the Royee field. In a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Sunday, Ratio Oil and Israel Opportunity Energy Resources announced that a seismic survey of the Royee field indicated that it contained about 3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas that could be extracted.

However, said economists, the Royee gas may not be extracted in the near future because there is so much gas in the “veteran” Leviathan and Tamar fields.

The survey indicated that Royee has between between 1.9 and 5 tcf, with 3.2 tcf its best estimate. Ratio holds a 70% stake in the field, and Israel Opportunity has 10%. The balance is held by Italian power company Edison. The field is located about 150 kilometers (93 miles’ off Israel’s shores, close to the international maritime border with Cyprus and Egypt.

If those figures pan out, the Royee field would be Israel’s third largest, after the Leviathan field, with 22 tcf, and the Tamar field, at 11 tcf. It should be noted that the estimated size of both fields has been raised several times, as further exploration indicated that there was more gas available than originally predicted.

Given that preparations to extract gas from the much larger Leviathan and Tamar fields are already at an advanced stage, economists speaking on Israel Radio said Sunday said that there was some doubt on when – or even whether – the Royee field would be exploited. According to business daily Globes, Israeli power companies, like the Israel Electric Corporation, have long-term contracts to buy gas from the Tamar field, while Israel is still trying to finish deals for the Leviathan gas that the government has authorized for foreign export.

Regardless, Israel Opportunity CEO Eyal Shuker is positive that the Royee field will eventually be used in Israel or abroad. “I am very satisfied with the results of the survey, and with the fact that we are discovering more gas fields, which will allow us to spread the risk between our assets. This is a strategy that has worked well for our company.

“On a national level, the Royee discovery is also important,” Shuker added. “We are beginning to understand that the Levant basin has many energy repositories. I am hopeful that the government will take this opportunity to encourage entrepreneurs to continue their exploration and development of the area, to ensure a better and safer future for Israel.”

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