Noble, Ratio Oil Find Natural Gas in Leviathan Field Off Israeli Coast

Initial drilling results showed that Israel’s offshore Leviathan field contains natural gas, according to partner Ratio Oil Exploration 1992 LP.

The results don’t yet indicate the size, quality or economic viability of the project, the company said in a statement today to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Details are expected to be released in about two weeks, Ratio said.

“The announcement lowers the uncertainty surrounding investment in these gas explorers,” said Liat Glazer, an analyst at Excellence Nessuah Investment House Ltd. in Ramat Gan, Israel. “We will be awaiting indications of the amount of gas in the reservoir in the next two weeks. Assuming the quantities match previous estimates from the seismic tests, the production process will probably start around 2017.”

Noble Energy Inc., the Houston-based explorer which has a controlling interest in Leviathan, said on June 3 that it may hold 16 trillion cubic feet of gas with a 50 percent “geologic chance” of success. Noble holds 39.7 percent, Ratio 15 percent, Delek Drilling-LP 22.7 percent, and Avner Oil & Gas Ltd. 22.7 percent, according to the Ministry of National Infrastructures.

The shares of the Israeli companies were halted pending the announcement and will resume trading at 11:42 a.m. in Tel Aviv.

If the prospect yields the estimated amount of gas, Leviathan would be the largest gas field in Israeli waters, almost double the size of the Tamar field discovered in 2009. Gas in the Leviathan field may be exported as Tamar and Dalit, both estimated to begin producing at the end of 2012, cover about two decades of Israel’s gas supply.

To contact the reporters on this story: David Wainer in Tel Aviv at dwainer1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Claudia Maedler at cmaedler@bloomberg.net;

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