(Corrects project cost in third paragraph to $940 million, not
SYDNEY Dec 3 Woodside Petroleum Ltd
has agreed a $1.25 billion deal to acquire a 30 percent stake in
Leviathan, a natural gas find off Israel's Mediterranean shores,
as Australia's biggest oil and gas company expands its reach
outside its home market.
Woodside said on Monday it will be the operator of any
liquefied natural gas (LNG) development of the field, which is
estimated to contain around 17 trillion cubic feet of
recoverable natural gas. Noble Energy Inc will be the
The Australian firm has been building a bigger international
presence to offset a jump in costs at domestic oil and gas
developments, with Woodside's own flagship LNG project coming in
$940 million over budget.
Woodside announced in October it had agreed to explore for
oil and gas in Myanmar with South Korea's Daewoo International
In May, Woodside was one of 15 companies, including majors
such as Total, to bid on nine offshore gas blocks in
Woodside CEO Peter Coleman said the Leviathan deal was a
significant step towards realising Woodside's ambition to secure
world-class growth opportunities.
Texas-based Noble Energy has a 39.66 percent share
in the field. Israel's Delek Group, through
subsidiaries Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration
, has a 45.34 percent stake. Ratio Oil Exploration
holds the remaining 15 percent.
The agreement also allows Woodside to participate in further
exploration opportunities in the 349-Rachel and 350-Amit Israeli
offshore petroleum licences.
"Acquiring an interest in these permits is an exciting
opportunity to grow our portfolio in the emerging Eastern
Mediterranean basin," Coleman said in a statement.
Woodside said the agreement involves an initial upfront
payment of $696 million, a further payment of $200 million once
laws permitting LNG export are in force and a $350 million
payment on a final investment decision in relation to an LNG
It is also subject to potential annual LNG revenue sharing
payments equal to 11.5 percent of Woodside's incremental revenue
above an agreed escalating price threshold over the life of the
project, capped at $1 billion.
Shares in Woodside were up 0.7 percent at A$34.04 ($35.51)
at 1213 GMT, in line with a firmer broader market.
($1 = 0.9585 Australian dollars)
(Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by Richard Pullin and Ed