Leviathan, the nation’s largest natural gas field, will start production for the local market this month and exports to Egypt and Jordan soon after, a senior official at the field’s operator said at a Monday conference.
“Within two to three weeks we will open the wells and start to supply the gas,” said Binyamin Zomer, VP for Regional Affairs at Noble Energy, the US oil and gas explorer that operates and holds a 40 percent stake in the field. “Before the end of the year we will start supplying the domestic market, and in the weeks right after that we will export to Egypt and Jordan.”
The start of production, some nine years after the field was discovered offshore in 2010, will lead the country to energy independence and is considered a milestone in its economic history. The project, the largest funded by private capital in the nation’s history, will pave the way for Israel to become an exporter of natural gas and is seen to help grease the wheels of regional diplomacy.
The Monday announcement is in line with forecasts by Noble and its partners in the field, Delek Drilling LP, a unit of Delek Group, and Ratio Oil Exploration 1992.
The field has signed contracts to supply local electricity producers and other companies, and also has contracts to supply Jordan and Egypt.
“We are in the final testing and bringing everything to life,” said George Hatfield, VP of Major Projects at Noble Energy, at the conference. “These are exciting times for Israel.”
The Leviathan field, located in the Mediterranean Sea 125 kilometers west of Haifa, is estimated to hold 22 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, and a potential half a million barrels of oil, according to estimates provided by Ratio Oil Exploration 1992.
The partners have invested $3.75 billion to date in the development of the reservoir, according to data provided by the companies.
Natural gas from the field will be transmitted through two 120-kilometer (75-mile) subsea pipelines directly to the Leviathan platform, where it will be processed. The treated gas will then flow from the platform through a northern entry pipeline connected to the national gas transmission system of Israel Natural Gas Lines.
The nearby Tamar field, owned by Noble, Delek and Israeli firm Isramco Negev 2, LP, started producing gas in 2013 and has been supplying Israel with fuel. It holds some 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, half Leviathan’s amount.
The Leviathan project has been the focus of bitter opposition from environmentalists and others, while a change in natural gas royalties policy delayed the development of the field by about a year.
At the 17th Israel Energy and Business Convention held at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel in Ramat Gan, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that Israel would “undoubtedly” meet its 10% renewable energy target by 2020.