Oil and Gas

China eyes gas deal with Israel consortium-report

JERUSALEM, Jan 27 (Reuters) - China has shown interest in purchasing natural gas from a consortium drilling in the Tamar area off Israel’s northern shore, the Maariv newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Chinese officials raised the issue with Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva last week in China, it said. Tshuva's Delek Group DELKG.TA conglomerate has a stake in Tamar through Delek Drilling DEDRp.TA and Avner Oil Exploration AVNRp.TA, which each own 15.625 percent.

A spokeswoman for Delek confirmed that Delek representatives would fly to China to discuss a possible deal.

Shares of Delek Drilling were up 2.2 percent at 0900 GMT, trading at 9.4 shekels per share, compared with a 0.5 percent drop on the broader Tel Aviv market. Avner was up 1.8 percent, trading at 1.57 shekels per share.

Noble Energy NBL.N leads the consortium drilling at the Tamar-1 and Tamar-2 sites off the northern port of Haifa and the Dalit site 60 km off the coast of Hadera, a city south of Haifa. Isramco Negev ISRAp.TA and Dor Gas Exploration are also partners in the consortium.

Shares of Isramco Negev were up 2.3 percent, trading at 0.63 shekels per share in early morning trade.

The consortium plans to bring the first phase of production to Israeli shores by 2012. State-owned utility Israel Electric Corp plans to buy 2.7 billion cubic meters of gas from Tamar over 15 years, worth $400 million to $750 million annually.

$1 = 3.72 shekels Reporting by Joseph Nasr, Editing by William Hardy