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New Gas Field In Levantine Basin Could Hold 5 trillion Cubic Feet

After discovering two huge gas fields beneath the eastern Mediterranean Sea a few years ago, Israeli prospectors kept searching, and now they report discovering a third field that may hold as much as 5 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The new Royee prospect, as it is known, is not as large as the Tamar field found in 2009 and the Leviathan field identified in 2010. They hold reserves estimated at 11 and 22 trillion cubic feet of gas, respectively, and because of their size they led to a flurry of exploration in the region, known as the Levantine basin.

Two of Royee’s owners, Ratio Oil and Israel Opportunity, estimated the field’s reserves most conservatively at 1.9 trillion cubic feet of gas and most optimistically at 5 trillion cubic feet. The best estimate is about in the middle, at 3.2 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Related: Europe Needs A New Source of Oil and Gas, Fast

That would mean that Royee would be the third-largest offshore oil field discovered in Israeli waters and the fourth-largest in the Mediterranean Basin, said Eyal Shuker, CEO of Israel Opportunity. Royee is situated nearly 100 miles off the coast of Israel near its maritime borders with Cyprus and Egypt.

“At the national level, the news means a lot,” Shuker said. “We have learned that the Levantine basin holds reservoirs at other depths, and I hope the next government will exploit the opportunity by encouraging entrepreneurs to continue the exploring and developing.”

The find is especially important for Israel Opportunity, which lost money on a dry well last year. “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” Shuker said. This is a strategy that has worked well for our company.”

Drilling at Royee will be conducted from a platform leased from partners controlling the nearby Leviathan field and will be led by another owner of the field, Edison of Italy, which brings a lot of experience in deep-sea drilling in the region and has been involved in several liquified natural gas (LNG) projects.

Related: Turkey Striving to Realize Energy Dream

Yet activity at Royee may not begin soon. The Times of Israel cites economists who say that so much gas remains in the Leviathan and Tamar fields that there’s no need to begin tapping Royee in the immediate future.

Ratio holds 70 percent of the Royee prospect; Edison, which is controlled by the French utility EDF, owns 10 percent; and Israel Opportunity has a 10 percent stake in the field. But the discovery, announced Dec. 14, didn’t have much of a positive impact on their stocks.

Shares in Israel Opportunity closed up by only 3.4 percent in trading on Dec. 15 at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and Ratio’s stock rose only by 1.1 percent. The market evidently was depressed by the six-month-old plunge of world oil prices, which also affect the value of natural gas.

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com

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