Avner, Delek Drilling Rise on Karish 1 Gas Signs: Tel Aviv Mover

Avner Oil Exploration LLP and Delek Drilling-LP rose to the highest in a week as they said “significant” signs of natural gas were discovered at the Karish 1 site, increasing bets the find will help boost exports.

Shares of Avner, whose interests include the offshore Tamar natural gas field, increased 1.7 percent to 2.656 shekels, the highest since May 8 at the close in Tel Aviv. The shares were the fourth-most traded on the TA-25 Index, which rose 0.9 percent after a two-day holiday. Delek Drilling advanced 1.4 percent to 15.47 shekels.

Natural gas discoveries off the coast of Israel are forecast to meet the country’s demand for the next 20 years and enable Israel to become a gas exporter, according to the Finance Ministry. Gross contingent resources at the offshore Leviathan site are about 19 trillion cubic feet, or 5.5 percent more than previous estimates, a report by consultants Netherland, Sewell & Associates Inc. earlier this month showed.

“The more finds there are, the more pressure there will be on the government to allow higher exports as domestic supply needs are saturated,” Daniel Goldstein, global head of sales at IBI-Israel Brokerage & Investments, said by phone from Tel Aviv. “This is very reassuring for the country’s economy and revenues for the gas exploration companies involved.”

The Tamar field, estimated to hold 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, started producing natural gas on March 30. A government-appointed committee recommended in August that Israel allow as much as 500 billion cubic meters (18 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas to be exported. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government has still to approve the recommendations.

Avner and Delek partners in the Karish 1 offshore-exploration site at the Alon C/366 license include Houston, Texas-based Noble Energy Inc. Delek Group Ltd., which has stakes in Delek Drilling and Avner, advanced 1.7 percent.