Leviathan partners seek cartel exemption

Delek and Ratio have asked Antitrust Authority director general David Gilo for a cartel exemption for gas exports from the reservoir.

Leviathan's Israeli partners - Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) units Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L) and Delek Drilling LP (TASE: DEDR.L), and Ratio Oil Exploration (1992) LP (TASE:RATI.L) - have asked Antitrust Authority director general David Gilo for a cartel exemption for gas exports from the reservoir. An exemption would facilitate the sale rights in the reservoir to Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (ASX: WPL).

In December, Woodside announced that it would acquire 30% of Leviathan for $1.25 billion, with the intention of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Far Eastern markets.

The request for a cartel exemption seems to strengthen the possibility that Gilo will declare gas sales from Leviathan to the Israeli market a cartel. In September 2011, he announced that he was considering declaring as a cartel the 2006 deal under which Delek and Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL) acquired 85% of the rights to Leviathan from Ratio. Delek and Noble Energy did not seek a cartel exemption for that deal, partly because the value of the deal - four years before the gas discovery at Leviathan - was very small at the time. The huge gas discovery of 18 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas at the Rachel license, part of the Leviathan structure, in late 2010 changed the picture, and analysts now estimate the reservoir's value at $5 billion.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 17, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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