Massive Gas Field Begins Production Offshore Israel

The largest natural gas field in the rising Eastern Mediterranean region is now flowing after being discovered a decade ago.


Noble Energy began production 31 December from its huge Leviathan natural gas project offshore Israel, the latest milestone in turning that region into a major gas powerhouse.

The $3.6 billion offshore Leviathan field was discovered a decade ago and soon will turn Israel into a gas exporter after years of the country relying on imports and coal-fired electricity.

Leviathan is the largest natural gas field in the rising Eastern Mediterranean region that is increasingly attracting other top oil and gas players, including Exxon Mobil. Earlier this week, Egypt announced that it had awarded several exploration blocks to four of the world’s oil majors in both its Mediterranean and Red Sea territorial waters. Egypt opened its offshore sector to foreign operators when it awarded concessions for the massive Zohr gas field to Eni in 2016, and the country has already reduced gas imports as it looks to eventually become a net exporter.

“This is a historic day for Noble Energy,” Noble Chief Executive David Stover said in a statement. “The safe and successful execution of the initial phase of Leviathan development has been world-class, continuing our exceptional track record of major project delivery.”

Gas from Leviathan, located 130 km west of the port city of Haifa, will be transported from the platform via a subsea pipeline connected to Israel’s transmission system and from there to consumers throughout the country.

Noble’s partners in the project are Delek Drilling and Ratio. “For the first time since its establishment, Israel is now an energy powerhouse, able to supply all its energy needs and gaining energy independence,” Delek Drilling CEO Yossi Abu said. “At the same time, we will be exporting natural gas to Israel’s neighbors, thus strengthening Israel’s position in the region.”

Noble said that gas exports to Jordan will start this week and exports will eventually flow to Egypt. The project eventually will represent almost 20% of Noble's worldwide oil and gas production.

Israel’s energy picture changed a decade ago when Noble discovered gas in the Tamar field 50 miles offshore Israeli 5,000 ft water. Noble followed that in 2010 with a discovery in the larger Leviathan field. Since then, Israel has been developing an energy regulatory framework. That regulatory setup eventually required Noble to decrease its ownership stake in the projects, according to Reuters news agency. As a result, Noble owns about 40% of Leviathan while its main Israeli partner, Delek, holds about 45%, and Israel's Ratio Oil Exploration holds the remaining 15%.