By Oleg Vukmanovic
MILAN, March 6 Italian utility Edison is in
talks to buy two Israeli gas fields from U.S. explorer Noble
Energy and Israel's Delek Drilling, which are estimated to hold
up to 70 billion cubic metres in total, two sources with
knowledge of the talks said.
The Israeli and U.S. companies developing the massive
Leviathan gas field off Israel's coast must sell their stakes in
the two smaller fields to avoid being branded a cartel by the
Edison, owned by France's EDF, is in talks to buy
the Tanin and Karish fields offshore Israel, the sources said.
Edison officials could not immediately be reached to
"The fields are between 50 and 70 bcm together, but a survey
has to be concluded first to understand the exact size of the
resource," one of the sources said.
Noble Energy and Delek Drilling have
jointly discovered deposits of 29 trillion cubic feet offshore
Israel since 2009.
Edison is already exploring offshore Israel for gas after
acquiring licenses for the Neta and Roi sites, which cover an
area adjacent to the 19 tcf Leviathan field that is vital to
Israel's ambition of becoming an international gas exporter.
The talks are progressing slowly, however, due to tough
terms set by Israel's antitrust authority such as forcing the
operator to build costly infrastructure and at the same time
restricting sales to Israel's domestic market.
Low gas prices in Israel at $5.50 per million British
thermal units (mmBtu) combined with regulatory uncertainty make
it difficult to justify big upfront investments, both sources
The companies hope the regulator could amend the terms to
allow some of the gas from the fields to be exported or to allow
Edison, or any other buyer, to lease capacity on existing or
planned pipelines instead of financing them itself, the sources