Israel's natural gas.
(photo credit: MINISTRY OF NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURES)
Despite reports earlier this week that a state-owned Indian hydrocarbons firm had expressed interest in entering the Leviathan natural gas reservoir, the company has now denied any such inclinations.
Last week, Israel Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo announced he would be reconsidering the status of the Delek Group and Noble Energy – the two major stakeholders in the Tamar and Leviathan gas reservoirs – in the latter, larger basin, which has yet to be developed.
The possibility that the companies could be declared a cartel has garnered fears among potential foreign investors about placing funds in Israel’s hydrocarbons in the future. Nonetheless, earlier this week, Indian business newspaper The Financial Express reported that stateowned company ONGC Videsh (OVL) had expressed interest in buying a stake in Leviathan.
“OVL would like to participate in the Leviathan fields and other blocks offered for farm-in in the Levantine basin in Israeli waters,” the paper quoted an unnamed official as saying.
This report immediately prompted a demand for clarification from the National Stock Exchange in India. The Exchange demanded to know whether such negotiations were taking place and the chronological order of associated events and any other relevant material if so.
In response, ONGC clarified that OVL had no interest at the moment in investing in Leviathan, in a report available on the Exchange’s website as of Wednesday.
“ONGC Videsh is currently not pursuing any stake in Leviathan field off Israel coast,” a statement from the company said. “Further, no inputs were provided by ONGC Videsh which has led to the referred cited news in Financial Express.”
Meanwhile, Noble Energy said it is suspending its negotiations with Israel Shipyards until the future of the natural gas industry becomes clear, according to a letter sent this week to the Shipyards’ management.
The negotiations are for a seven-year extension of the lease for the base of Noble’s marine activity. The base area covers seven acres, for which Noble would have paid over NIS 15m. a year for more than five years.
Antitrust Authority director-general David Gilo decided last week to revoke a compromise reached with the Leviathan partnership in which the partnership would have sold two smaller gas reservoirs, Karish and Tanin, while retaining the larger Leviathan reservoir.
Globes contributed to this report