Noble Slides Most in 7 Weeks After Israel Natural Gas Ruling

Noble Energy Inc. shares fell the most in seven weeks after Israel’s High Court blocked the government’s proposal to regulate the natural gas industry, threatening to delay the development of offshore fields.

The court objected to the proposal stability clause, which would have prevented major regulatory changes for 10 years, and gave the government a year to revise the plan. Lack of an approved government framework has delayed development of Leviathan, the largest reserves. Noble and Delek Group Ltd. are among the companies that hold Israel’s offshore gas fields.

The ruling "is disappointing and represents another risk to Leviathan timing," Chief Executive Officer David Stover said in a statement. "It is now up to the Government of Israel to deliver a solution which at least meets the terms of the Framework, and to do so quickly."

Shares fell 7.8 percent to $29.81 at 11:15 a.m. in New York, the biggest drop since Feb. 5. Shares are down 9.5 percent for the year.

Noble was downgraded to hold from buy at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co., on the basis that the ruling may put the company’s expansion at risk.

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