Tamar gas field.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Noble Energy Inc. announced on Tuesday that it will be selling three percent of its share of the Tamar natural gas reservoir to Harel Group and the Israel Infrastructure Fund for $369 million.
Insurance company and pension fund manager Harel partnered with infrastructure investment firm IIF for the agreement. They also have the option to purchase an additional 1% worth of working interest before the deal is closed.
Before this agreement, Noble owned 36% of the 282-billion-cubic- meter reservoir. The other partners in the Tamar consortium include Delek subsidiaries, Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration, with a 15.625% share each, Isramco with a 28.75% share and Dor Gas Exploration with 4%.
The news comes two days after the Tamar consortium announced development of one of the field’s undeveloped wells, expected to begin at the end of 2016.
Noble’s executive vice president of operations, Gary W. Willingham, said of the sale in a statement that the money from the sale would “contribute to our upcoming capital investments in Israel, including our initial investment in the Leviathan project.” The company also owns a 39.66% stake in the undeveloped Leviathan natural gas reservoir.
The sale also comes as government officials square off over the amount of natural gas that is really contained in Leviathan. A report released last month from the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Ministry provided figures estimating the reservoir contained about 20% less natural gas than originally thought.
While the consortium developing Leviathan maintains that the reservoir contains 621 b.cu.m., the ministry said that it contains 500 b.cu.m.
At the Knesset’s Finance Committee on Tuesday, the ministry’s director- general Shaul Meridor rejected accusations that the ministry hid knowledge of the lower amounts until the gas deal was approved.
Meridor responded as well to accusations made by Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On that the High Court judges approved of the deal because it was based “on optimistic numbers, not pessimistic” and accused both the court and public of being “willfully misled.”
“In every meeting on the gas deal, the government presented a lower estimation than the number published,” Meridor said. He noted that all regulations related to the natural gas framework were based on the lower figure, not “just some numbers thrown in the air.”
On Monday, while speaking at the Energy and Economy Conference in Kfar Truman, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz spoke of the differing figures, saying that “nothing is for sure. [The estimated amounts] could be higher or lower, but in any case, they are significant amounts,” he said.