Drilling to start next month at Israel's Pelagic gas fields

JERUSALEM Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:43am EDT

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JERUSALEM Oct 18 (Reuters) - Drilling at Israel's Pelagic offshore natural gas fields will begin in November and last for about three months, at a cost of around $103 million, exploration firm Israel Opportunity said on Thursday.

The Ishai field, the first of five Pelagic licenses to be drilled, is located about 160 kilometers off Israel's coast in waters 1,700 meters deep. It is estimated to hold 3.7 trillion cubic feet of gas and the drilling has up to a 76.7 percent chance of geological success, Israel Opportunity said.

Exploration groups have discovered large deposits of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean in recent years, and a slew of oil and gas companies have bought into licenses offshore Israel and Cyprus in hope of making the next big discovery.

The Pelagic fields are near the Tamar and Leviathan fields, two of the world's largest offshore discoveries of the past decades, which experts say improve chances of finding commercial quantities.

But just last month, another group that was optimistic about discovering natural gas in the area disappointed investors with news of a dry well.

Israel Opportunity, which has a 10 percent stake in the Pelagic licenses, said in its statement that the Aphrodite 2 well to be drilled next month has a target depth of 6,000 metres.

The operator will be Norway's AGR, which also has a five percent share. Israeli billionaires Benny Steinmetz and Teddy Sagi each control 42.5 percent stakes. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Mark Potter)

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