Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources (MIEWR) Yuval Steinitz officially rejected an appeal made on behalf of Noble Energy, Delek Group ltd. and Ratio Oil Exploration to extend their oil and gas exploration license over the Hanna Prospect, an offshore oil field located off the coast of Tel Aviv. The Israel Petroleum Law requires that in order for a 7-year license to be extended, an “oil and gas exploration” drilling prospect must be commercially viable. The mere 2-3 billion cubic meters (BCM) in natural gas found after drilling the Dolphin Reservoir in the Hanna site, however, fails to classify the site as such.
Although this decision may come as a blow to Noble, Delek and Ratio Oil, all three companies still have stake in Israel’s Leviathan gas field which has proven to be a successful venture. Being one of the largest gas fields in the Mediterranean, the Leviathan contains an estimated 535 BCM of natural gas which is predicted to be available to the Israeli market by 2019. Noble Energy, a company based out of Houston, Texas has the greatest stake in the project at 40%, investing $1.5 billion of the total $3.75 billion financed in the Leviathan project. Estimating that the four production wells drilled at the site will annually produce 12 BCM to Israel, doubling the current amount of gas available to the Jewish State, Noble expects a minimal operating cash flow of $650 million in the first year following Leviathan’s introduction to the nation’s market.
Further, despite the disappointment in the rejection of the Hanna license extension, there is still great potential for oil and natural gas to be discovered in other areas outside of the Leviathan gas field. In fact, MIEWR Minister Steinitz visited Houston in March for the annual international CERAWeek Conference to inform energy leaders and companies of Israel’s emerging position as an energy leader. It is estimated that up to 6.6 billion barrels of oil and 2,137 cubic meters of gas are yet to be discovered in the Levant Basin where current blocks are open for companies to bid and invest in. The bidding period for companies to invest in these promising offshore blocks of natural gas ends on July 10th. Accordingly, this presents a great opportunity for other Texas-based energy companies to invest in Israeli energy and begin forming economic alliances with Israeli companies that may expand to future projects.
· Hanna Rejection: http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-steinitz-rejects-gas-cos-appeal-against-hanna-license-expiry-1001192155
· Figure of total BCM contained in Leviathan: http://www.timesofisrael.com/noble-energy-gives-go-ahead-to-develop-leviathan-gas-field/
· Info. over Noble Investment and the Leviathan Expectations: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-natgas-leviathan-idUSKBN1620OS
· Bidding Dates of Exploration Blocks: http://www.energy-sea.gov.il/English-Site/Lobby/Articles/Pages/The-Ministry-of-Energy-Postpones-the-Deadline-for-Submitting-Proposals-in-the-Offshore-Bid-Round.aspx
· Steinitz at CERAWeek: http://www.worldoil.com/news/2017/3/13/ceraweek-17-israel-s-energy-minister-discusses-prospects-for-levant-basin