Leviathan gas field to start up after Israeli ministry grants approval

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TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Companies developing the huge natural gas field Leviathan will begin production on Tuesday after receiving approval from Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry, one of the project’s partners said on Friday.

Leviathan was supposed to begin operations on Dec. 24, but the ministry, which monitors emissions from the project, said it needed to extra data from the energy companies running the field and would postpone production.

Delek Drilling, which is leading the project with Texas-based Noble Energy, said in a statement that it had received approval from the ministry and will begin gas production on Dec. 31.

Leviathan production was delayed earlier this month for a couple of days until a court lifted a temporary injunction that had been granted over environmental concerns.

The field’s discovery in 2010 helped turn Israel into a potential energy exporter. The project’s partners have already signed major, multi-billion dollar export deals to Egypt and Jordan.

Reporting by Rami Ayyub, editing by Louise Heavens