(Adds details, background)
JERUSALEM, June 3 Exploration firm Israel
Opportunity said on Sunday there is potentially 6.7 trillion
cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas and 1.4 billion barrels of oil
at its Pelagic fields offshore Israel, with a relatively high
probability for geological success.
The estimate comes from a resources report, made by
Texas-based petroleum consultant Ryder Scott, which covers five
different sites about 170 kms off Israel's coast, the company
said in a statement.
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 the licenses offshore
Israel and Cyprus in hope of making the next big discovery.
The Pelagic fields were given a high geological probability
for success in global standards, between 28.5 to 76.7 percent
depending on the exact site, in part because of its proximity to
even larger proven fields nearby, Israel Opportunity said.
In the same area are the Tamar field, with some 9 tcf of
gas, and Leviathan, which was the world's largest deep-sea find
of the past decade with an estimated 17 tcf of natural gas.
"The data from the resources report are even better than the
estimates Israel Opporunity had when it first chose to enter the
Pelagic licenses," company Chairman Rony Halman said.
Israel Opportunity has a 10 percent stake in the
Pelagic licenses and the fields' Norwegian operator AGR holds a
5 percent share. Israeli billionaires Benny Steinmetz and Teddy
Sagi each control a 42.5 percent stake.
The consortium hopes to begin drilling at the first Pelagic
site in the fourth quarter of 2012, which is when another
Israeli-led group is supposed to finish using a drilling rig in
the waters nearby, Israel Opportunity said.
It estimated the cost of drilling to be about $100 million.
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher)