Noble Energy, partners acquire Egypt-Israel gas pipeline stake for $518m

The agreements represent a significant step toward fulfilling a $15 billion decade-long deal which will see Noble Energy and Delek Drilling supply 64 billion cu.m. of natural gas to Egypt.

An Israeli gas platform is seen in the Mediterranean sea August 1, 2014 (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN/FILE PHOTO)
An Israeli gas platform is seen in the Mediterranean sea August 1, 2014
Houston-based Noble Energy Inc., together with Israeli gas operator Delek Drilling and Egyptian partner East Gas, have reached agreements worth approximately $518 million to support the delivery of natural gas from the Leviathan and Tamar gas fields to Egypt, the companies announced on Thursday.
The companies will acquire a 39% stake in East Mediterranean Gas S.A.E., owners of the dormant 90 km.-long EMG gas pipeline connecting the Israeli gas network from Ashkelon to the Egyptian network near El-Arish.
The agreements represent a significant step toward fulfilling a $15 billion decade-long deal signed in February which will see Noble Energy and Delek Drilling supply 64 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Egypt from the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields, located off Israel.
Upon conclusion of the transaction, Noble Energy and its partners will enter into an agreement to operate the gas pipeline, thereby securing access to the pipeline’s full capacity.
The pipeline has not been in operation since 2012 when Egypt ended cut-price exports to Israel after supply shortages and repeated terrorist attacks on the pipeline infrastructure.
The estimated acquisition costs of $518m. will be payable at the closing of all transactions expected in early 2019. The transaction requires gaining necessary regulatory and government approvals, obtaining technical third-party recertification of the EMG pipeline, completing due diligence and confirming sustained gas flow.
“Today’s announcements mark significant steps forward in supplying natural gas from the world-class Tamar and Leviathan fields to regional customers through existing infrastructure,” said J. Keith Elliott, Noble Energy’s senior vice president offshore.
“They also represent another major milestone toward Egypt’s goal to become a regional energy hub, providing access to both growing domestic markets and existing liquefied natural gas export facilities.”
Initial gas delivery through the EMG pipeline linking the Israeli and Egyptian networks is expected to occur from the already-operational Tamar field, located 80 km. off the shore of Haifa, to Dolphinus Holdings Limited in Egypt.
“With these agreements, we are securing the capacity to deliver on our firm gas sales agreement with Dolphinus for Leviathan while also allowing for interruptible sales from Tamar into Egypt. This further solidifies the strong cash flow growth anticipated from our Eastern Mediterranean assets,” Elliot said.
Once the Leviathan field, situated 130 km. from Haifa, becomes operational by the end of 2019, Noble Energy says it expects to sell at least 9.91 million cu.m. of natural gas per day to contracted customers in Egypt.
“This is the most significant milestone for the Israeli gas market since the discoveries,” said Yossi Abu, CEO of Delek Drilling. “The Leviathan reservoir is becoming the Mediterranean Basin’s primary energy anchor, with customers in Israel, Egypt and Jordan.”
Ali Evsen, owner of the Evsen Group which holds a 17% stake in the EMG pipeline through its company MGPC, emphasized the boost the pipeline will give to Israeli-Egyptian relations.
“We did our utmost to support this deal, which we believe will be for the benefit of both countries, Egypt and Israel, and the revival of this peace symbol will strengthen the relations between these countries. As an international group, we are happy to be a part of it,” said Evsen.
Noble Energy and Delek Drill- ing have also secured an option for an additional route and capacity to transport natural gas within Egypt by securing a definitive transportation agreement with the owner of the Aqaba El-Arish pipeline, thereby supporting the transportation of additional quantities of natural gas to Egypt over and above the amounts carried by the EMG pipeline.
“Egypt is a huge market with nearly 100 million people, and gas consumption there has been restrained because of a lack of gas. Now that they have more gas, they can increase electricity generation and are currently completing 14.4 gigawatts of gas-powered stations,” Dr. Gina Cohen, a gas consultant and lecturer at Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, told The Jerusalem Post.
“They are linking more and more homes. Factories that were not able to use gas will now be able to, and they are going to try and develop their industry because the Egyptian economy is in dire straits and requires a lot of industrial development.
“Connections between Israel and Egypt are good militarily and intelligence-wise, and energy can only add to the understanding and business between the countries,” Cohen said.
The deal to supply Egypt follows a September 2016 agreement worth $10b. between Jordan’s National Electric Power Company Ltd. and the operators of the Leviathan gas field to supply a gross quantity of 45 billion cu.m. of natural gas to Israel’s eastern neighbors over a 15-year period. A large gas pipeline to Jordan from Leviathan is currently under construction.