Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL) and the energy exploration subsidiaries of Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG), controlled by Yitzhak Tshuva, have offered to sell their rights in the Alon and Ruth licenses in exchange for keeping their rights to the Tamar license and the Rachel and Amit licenses in the Leviathan reservoir. The offer was made before the companies signed the memorandum of understanding with Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (ASX: WPL) to become a partner in Leviathan, which could have a material effect on competition in Israel's natural gas market.
In the Alon and Ruth licenses, the Karish ("Shark") and Tanin ("Crocodile") reservoirs have had 70 and 16.8 billion cubic meters (BCM) of gas discovered to date, a third of the size of the Tamar discovery and a fifth of the size of the Leviathan discovery.
The proposal was made during negotiations, which have been going on for several months, between the Leviathan partners and the Antitrust Authority. The negotiations were initiated with Antitrust Authority director general David Gilo, who said that he intended to declare Leviathan a cartel, subject to a hearing. Sources inform ''Globes'' that the Ministry of Finance Budget Department was recently updated about the progress in the negotiations, albeit only with generalities. Ministry of Energy and Water Resources officials have also been a party to the negotiations for a while.
"Globes" previously disclosed that Gilo had been considering requiring Delek Group and Noble Energy to choose between their main gas reservoirs, and sell one in order to keep the other. Officially, the Leviathan partners say that Delek and Noble Energy's acquisition of 85% of the reservoir in 2007 was included in the list of holdings when the Antitrust Authority approved the companies' various deals.
When the deal with Woodside is completed, it will own 30% of the rights to Leviathan, the same stakes that will be held by Delek and Noble Energy. Woodside agreed to pay up to $2.4 billion for 30% of the rights to Leviathan, and will have a veto on any gas supply agreements.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 13, 2012
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