Leviathan partners to begin drilling gas reservoir in early 2017

After an initial appraisal stage, the $77 million well will be used to produce gas – which is slated to serve both the Israeli local market and potential export outlets.

December 18, 2016 13:57
2 minute read.
Atwood Advantage

Aboard the Atwood Advantage while drilling Tamar-8.. (photo credit: SHARON UDASIN)

As Israel's long frozen natural gas sector begins to move forward slowly but surely, the Leviathan reservoir partners announced on Sunday their plans to begin drilling a new well in the basin during the first quarter of 2017.

The partners approved the drilling of the Leviathan-5 well, located about 130 km. west of Haifa, within the 613-billion cubic meter Leviathan reservoir. After an initial appraisal stage, the $77 million well will be used to produce gas – which is slated to serve both the Israeli local market and potential export outlets.

"Drilling the Leviathan-5 well is a step forward in promoting the project, and is another reflection of Noble Energy's commitment to meeting the time table of piping the gas to Israel before the end of 2019," said Bini Zomer, country manager of Noble Energy Israel.

Houston-based Noble Energy holds a 39.66% share of the Leviathan reservoir, while the Delek Group's subsidiaries Delek Drilling and Avner Oil each have 22.67% and Ratio Oil Exploration has 15%.

While the Leviathan reservoir partners are continuing to explore their export options, looking potentially to the European market via Turkey and Cyprus, they have already solidified one agreement with Israel's neighbor, Jordan. In September, the partners signed a $10 billion deal to supply Jordan's National Electric Power Company Ltd. (NEPCO) with 45 b.c.m. of gas over a 15-year period.

The development of the Leviathan-5 will be conducted by the Atwood Advantage ship, which is currently drilling the Tamar-8 well, an additional well that will soon be boosting the supply of the nearby Tamar reservoir. The 282-b.c.m. Tamar basin has been flowing to Israel's coast since March 2013.

The Atwood Advantage arrived to Israel's waters on October 21 after a stint in the Gulf of Mexico, where it also worked for Noble Energy, The Jerusalem Post learned during a tour of the ship in mid-November.

After leaving a South Korean factory in 2013, the new ship was supposed to head straight to Israel, but due to disputes that had been rattling the country’s natural gas sector, the vessel first headed to the US.

By October 23, only two days after the ship’s arrival in the eastern Mediterranean, its crew began drilling the Tamar 8 well.

At Leviathan-5, the final depth of the planned well is about 5,200 meters below sea level, with the water depth in the area about 1,740 meters, a statement from the partners said. Drilling is expected to commence during the first quarter of 2017, upon the conclusion of operations at the Tamar-8 well, the statement added.

Drilling the Leviathan-5 well is part of the A1 stage in Leviathan's overall development plan, submitted to the government at the end of February. According to that plan, which received the Petroleum Commissioner's approval in June, the partners will be establishing eight wells – two of which have already been drilled but must be completed for production. The total production capacity of the wells, the platform and the pipeline connecting the platform and the reservoir is expected to be about 21 b.c.m. per year.

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