JERUSALEM, July 13 The estimated size of natural
gas reserves in Israel's Leviathan field has been lifted by 16
percent, partners in the field said on Sunday.
Leviathan, discovered in 2010 off Israel's Mediterranean
coast, is the world's largest offshore gas find in the past
decade and is expected to provide the country with greater
energy independence. Production is slated to begin in 2017.
Based on updated analysis by consultant Netherland Sewall &
Associates (NSAI), the reserves estimate was increased to 21.93
trillion cubic feet (620 billion cubic metres) from 18.91 tcf.
The high estimate was raised by 10 percent to 26.52 tcf,
while the low estimate was increased by 11 percent to 16.58 tcf.
NSAI estimates that the field holds 39.4 million barrels of
condensate, up from 34.1 million.
The increases follows expansion of Leviathan's database,
including 3D seismic surveys and laboratory analysis.
Texas-based Noble Energy is the field's operator
with a 39.66 percent stake. Avner Oil and Delek
Drilling - subsidiaries of Delek Group -
hold a combined 45.34 percent and Ratio Oil has the
remaining 15 percent.
Delek Drilling said the higher reserves ensure Israel's
energy independence for decades to come.
"The dramatic increase in Leviathan's gas reserves gives a
wide range of export options and bases Israel's position as a
leading player in the international energy map with gas reserves
of 1,000 billion cubic metres (bcm)," Delek Drilling CEO Yossi
Along with Leviathan's 620 bcm, the Tamar field - which
started production last year - has 303 bcm, while two smaller
sites hold 58 bcm.
Israel's government has decided to allow exports of up to 40
percent of the gas reserves.
Last month, the partners in Leviathan said they had signed a
preliminary agreement with British oil and gas company BG Group
to negotiate a deal to export gas to BG's liquefied
natural gas (LNG) plant in Idku, Egypt.
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by David Goodman)