Noble Energy sells Israel gas project stake to Australia's Woodside

Thu Feb 6, 2014 6:02pm EST

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Feb 6 (Reuters) - Noble Energy Corp said on Thursday it has finalized an agreement to sell part of its interest in a massive Israeli natural gas project to Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd for $1.03 billion in cash and future revenues.

Noble Energy is developing the field, which is estimated to hold about 19 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, with Delek Group, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration.

Each of the partners are selling 25 percent of their respective stakes to Woodside.

The group wanted Woodside's expertise in developing liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects as well an additional investor.

Noble Energy will receive $390 million when the deal closes later this year and an additional $135 million when a decision is made on an LNG facility or export contracts exceed a predetermined limit.

The company, which will retain the largest stake in the Leviathan project at 30 percent once the deal closes, will also receive $502 million in shared future revenues from Woodside.

The deal was first announced in late 2012, though negotiations dragged on for more than a year while Israel's supreme court debated whether to allow natural gas exports and while other studies on the field's total potential were completed.

The Israeli high court ultimately allowed natural gas exports of up to 40 percent of produced natural gas.

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