As Israel takes its newly earned place among the world’s gas exporters, we are focusing this week on the Levant Basin region, where there is a flurry of interest and accompanying activity, and where investors should be keeping track and taking score.
Deals in Motion
• Italy’s Edison utility (owned by France’s EDF) is in talks to buy two Israeli gas fields from US explorer Noble Energy (behind Israel’s massive Levant Basin discoveries) and Israel’s Delek Drilling. The interesting part of this story is that Noble and Delek own the Leviathan gas field—the largest in the area—and now have to sell their stakes in two smaller fields or they will be labeled a “cartel”. The two offshore fields are Tanin and Karish and are believed to contain a combined total of up to 70 billion cubic meters of gas. This wouldn’t be Edison’s first foray into Israel’s offshore prospects. Edison is already exploring adjacent to the Leviathan field. We expect some problems with these talks, however, associated with Israel’s anti-trust authorities, who are attempting to see to it that operators build infrastructure at the same time as they explore. They will also restrict gas sales to the domestic market.
• Noble Energy and Delek—also partners in Israel’s smaller Tamar gas field—announced last weekend that they had signed a deal to provide $750 million worth of gas to IPP Delek Soreq for an Israeli-based power plant currently under construction. Under the deal, IPP Delek will purchase 3.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas over 15 years. IPP is controlled by Delek Group, which has a 31.25% interest in Tamar, through two subsidiaries—Delek Drilling and Avner. Noble is the operator of Tamar, with a 36% interest. Gas production at Tamar began in exactly a year ago today, and the field is estimated to hold around 223 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
• Israel sealed it first-ever gas export agreement last month, with Jordan. Noble and Delek will export $500 million worth of gas to two Jordanian companies under the deal. The gas will be exported over a 15-year period beginning in 2016. This deal requires the construction of a short pipeline south of the Dead Sea.
• In January, Noble signed a $1.2 billion contract with the Palestinian Electric Company…