Ratio Jumps Most in Two Months on Woodside Bets: Tel Aviv Mover

Ratio Oil Exploration 1992 LP and Delek Drilling-LP, partners in Israel’s largest natural gas field, advanced on bets they’ll make progress in investment talks with Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd. this week.

Ratio, a partner in the Leviathan gas field, rose 6.3 percent, the most since Dec. 1, to 0.506 shekel at the close in Tel Aviv. Delek Drilling gained 5.2 percent, the most since September 2012, to 19 shekels and Avner Oil Exploration LLP, also a partner in the field, added 5.9 percent. Avner was the second-biggest gainer on the benchmark TA-25 Index, which added less than 0.1 percent to 1,300.25

Representatives of Houston, Texas-based Noble Energy Inc., Delek and Ratio are scheduled to meet with Woodside in Australia this week, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg last week. Woodside said on Jan. 16 it sees a decision on Leviathan in the first half of 2014. The Leviathan partners said in a statement to the bourse today that the talks are continuing.

“The shares are rising on reports that the partners in Leviathan have left for Australia for talks, indicating that a finalizing of the deal may be near,” Noam Pincu, an analyst at Psagot Investment House Ltd. in Tel Aviv, said today by phone. “The deal would provide the financing to further develop the field and enable the partners to access Woodside’s contacts in the Far East.”

The Perth, Australia company’s investment has been delayed because of uncertainty over Israel’s gas export policy and discussion among the field partners about alternatives to building a liquefied natural gas platform. Delek Drilling said on Jan. 1 that the Leviathan partners are in talks to sell the rights in the field to Woodside after the country’s high court gave the go-ahead for natural gas export policy in October.

Israel has discovered enough natural gas under the Mediterranean to meet domestic needs and allow exports. The Tamar field started production in March. Leviathan, at about twice the size, will probably start production in 2017, according to a Noble Energy presentation last year.

Ratio also said today it started talks to become a partner in licenses for the Myra and Sara fields offshore Israel. Separately, the partners in Tamar South West updated estimates of gas reserves at the offshore site, in which Noble, Delek Drilling and Avner are also partners. Delek Group Ltd., with stakes in Delek Drilling and Avner, advanced 6.4 percent, the most since October 2012.

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