Postponed Leviathan gas platform test rescheduled for Tuesday

After numerous delays, the final, heavily-contested Leviathan gas platform test is set to take place on Tuesday

THE LEVIATHAN jacket. (photo credit: ALBATROSS)
(photo credit: ALBATROSS)
The delayed final stage of testing at the Leviathan natural gas platform has been rescheduled for Tuesday morning, the partners behind the offshore energy project announced on Friday.
Subject to full compliance with regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Ministry, the third and final procedure, during which natural gas will fill pipes leading from the gas reservoir to the platform, will commence at approximately 7 a.m. and last up to eight hours.
The repeatedly-delayed test was most recently scheduled to take place on December 23 but called off merely hours before when the ministry said platform operator Noble Energy had “failed to comply with all the strict requirements and conditions” that were mandatory prior to commencing operations.
The ministry said it had not been satisfied by measures to sample and monitor pollution at the rig and along the coast during the final testing procedure.
Despite environmental groups and local residents opposing the test, arguing that it will significantly increase air pollution along the nearby coastline, the project partners emphasized on Friday that “activities carried out on the platform do not impact routine life.”
“After examining the issue, the environmental protection and health ministries determined that no risk to residents is expected, so there is no need to change routines,” the partners said, responding to residents’ plans to leave their homes during the procedure.
“The heads of local authorities in the area and the Education Ministry have announced the same, and the court has approved the planned activity.”
During the eight-hour procedure, gas will flow for the first time from the reservoir wells through two 120 kilometer-long nitrogen-filled pipes to the platform, 10km. offshore Israel. The test will finish when nitrogen levels in the pipes decrease to a predetermined level. According to the Leviathan project partners, additional emissions from the platform during the test will be “minimal,” and not exceed 0.135 micrograms per cubic meter air (µg/m3).
The Leviathan reservoir, one of the largest natural gas fields discovered worldwide in the last decade, is thought to contain up to 605 billion cu.m. (bcm) of natural gas, equivalent to 65 years of domestic gas consumption. Following the conclusion of commissioning tests, the platform is due to pump gas to Israel’s domestic market, as well as to Egypt and Jordan.
The Energy Ministry approved the flow of gas from the Leviathan reservoir on December 19, with Minister Yuval Steinitz hailing the transformation of the State of Israel into “a gas superpower.”
The Homeland Guards environmental group, which has spearheaded opposition to the establishment of the platform, criticized the timing of the rescheduled test and called on local residents to leave their homes and join a protest in central Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
“In the ninetieth minute, just before Shabbat begins, Noble Energy and the Environmental Protection Ministry informed Israeli citizens that the test at the Leviathan platform will be on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 – the date is not accidental,” the group said in a message posted on social media.
“The Noble Energy company, and its public relations representative Yuval Steinitz, have pledged to flow gas by the end of 2019. So everything that needs to be ‘sorted out’ will be sorted out by that date – and at all costs. And that is why we are only more concerned.”
Since the discovery of the Leviathan gas field in 2010, Noble Energy and partners Delek Drilling and Ratio Oil Exploration have invested $3.75 billion in the energy project.
In February 2018, Delek and Noble Energy signed a $15b. decade-long deal to supply 64 bcm of natural gas to Egypt from Leviathan and the Tamar gas field, already in operation since 2013.
The deal follows a September 2016 agreement worth $10b. between Jordan’s National Electric Power Company Ltd. and the Leviathan project partners to supply a gross quantity of 45 bcm of natural gas to Israel’s eastern neighbor over a 15-year period.