(Adds analyst comment on LNG contract negotiations)
SYDNEY Feb 7 Woodside Petroleum Ltd
said on Friday it has signed a memorandum of understanding to
acquire a 25 percent interest in Israel's Leviathan field for an
initial $850 million, with a plan to complete a full agreement
by the end of March.
The proposed deal is smaller than the previous in-principle
agreement for Woodside to buy a 30 percent stake in the newly
discovered gas prospect for $1.25 billion.
The memorandum of understanding is part of Woodside's
strategy to diversify outside of Australia. It is also
considering projects in Myanmar and Ireland.
In October, Israel's top court upheld a government decision
to allow about 40 percent of natural gas from the country's
offshore reserves to be exported, dismissing arguments that more
gas should be earmarked for domestic use.
(Reporting by Jane Wardell; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)