Israeli Gas Explorers Slide as Giant Egypt Field Eyes 2017 Start

  • Delek Group slides to lowest level in more than two years
  • Psagot says neighboring find could hit Israeli exports

Shares of Delek Group Ltd. and its oil- and gas-exploring units slid in Tel Aviv after Eni SpA said it was seeking to start production from a large Egyptian gas find as soon as 2017, two years before the target for Leviathan, Israel’s largest field.

Delek Group shares declined 4.2 percent to 899 shekels, the lowest since January 2013 at the close in Tel Aviv, leading the TA-25 Index 0.6 percent lower. The stock has declined 14 percent since August 30 when Eni said it found a “super giant” natural gas field, the biggest in the Mediterranean, off the Egyptian coast.

The gap between the upper and lower Bollinger bands of Delek shares has widened to the most in three years, with the price graph hovering near the lower end. That signals declines in the stock could accelerate with greater price swings.

On Wednesday, Eni’s Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi said that the company plans to fast-track development in Egypt, starting production in 2017, while the Israeli government struggles to approve a policy for its nascent natural gas industry.

“This casts even more doubt on the export potential to Egypt,” Noam Pincu, an analyst at Psagot Investment House Ltd. in Tel Aviv, said by phone.

Noble Energy Inc., a partner in Israel’s fields, said on Sept. 7 that if all government approvals are obtained, Leviathan could go online in 2019 at the earliest. Companies developing Israeli gas fields have been planning to export the fuel to Egypt and the region, including Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

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