Israel Gas Stocks Rally as Reshuffle Seen Removing Hurdle

Israel’s oil and gas explorers jumped to the highest in almost two months on speculation the nation’s natural gas policy will be approved after a cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Economy Minister Aryeh Deri told Channel Two on Saturday that he is prepared to leave the ministry to make way for a replacement willing to endorse the plan, which would unlock development of Israel’s largest offshore field. While Deri said he won’t overrule the antitrust regulator, he also doesn’t wish to halt adoption of the framework. The TA-Oil & Gas index gained as much as 4 percent and was trading 1.8 percent higher at 1,031.12 at the close in Tel Aviv, the highest since Aug. 30.

Deri’s departure would remove a major regulatory obstacle blocking the development of the reserves in which U.S.-based Noble Energy Inc. and Israel’s Delek Group Ltd. hold stakes. TheMarker website reported on Friday that Netanyahu was planning a ministerial reshuffle to secure approval. Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources, Yuval Steinitz, said last week the prime minister is committed to the gas policy and it would be in place in coming weeks.

“Deri was the main obstacle to the framework,” Noam Pincu, an analyst at Psagot Investment House Ltd. in Tel Aviv, said by phone. “Now the companies can proceed with the development of Leviathan and Tamar and start signing contracts.”

Delek Group gained 3.8 percent to 986.60 shekels, rising for a fourth day. Avner Oil Exploration LP climbed 2.5 percent to 2.644 shekels. Both stocks were the highest since August 30.

“The ball now moves from the political field to the companies,” Liran Lublin, an analyst at Israel Brokerage & Investments Ltd., said in an e-mailed note. “The day after the passing of the framework, Delek and Noble will have to prove they will be able to sign export contracts.”

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