The plan to develop the 621-billion-cubic-meter Leviathan offshore natural gas field may soon be back on track after the two biggest framework stakeholders accepted an updated version of a disputed stability clause, according to the spokeswoman for National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Minister Yuval Steinitz.
In a statement from the minister's spokeswoman on Wednesday evening, it was reported that representatives from Delek Group Ltd.and Noble Energy Inc. met with Steinitz earlier in the day and agreed to a version of the stability clause that would allow future governments to have input regarding changes to Israel's natural gas policy, should it be necessary.
This latest version of the deal still requires approval from the government, which the ministry expects in the coming days.
Steinitz said that the new clause version was a “suitable replacement for the stability clause, based on the principles outlined by the High Court.”
“I am full of hope that the develop of the Leviathan gas field, which began last January, will now be able to continue according to the original timeline set down in the framework,” he said. “This year it could be possible to open up Israel's economic waters to renewed exploration for oil and gas with additional international energy companies.”
Houston-based Noble Energy owns a 39.66 percent stake of the Leviathan reservoir, while Delek Group subsidiaries Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration – each holding 22.67%, and Ratio Oil Exploration holding a 15% share.
A spokeswoman for Delek had no comment about the report and a spokeswoman for Noble Energy was not available for comment.
On March 27, the High Court struck down a section of the framework that would have guaranteed companies fixed natural gas prices and regulations for 10 years.
The consortium has set 2019 as the year for which it hopes natural gas will begin flowing to consumers, though representatives have said that a framework must be approved by the end of 2016 for this to happen.