Natural gas from a drilling platform some 90km off the coast of Haifa has started flowing to a processing facility along the Israeli coastal town of Ashdod this weekend.
Israel's Energy Ministry says gas from the offshore Tamar field began flowing for the first time Saturday and would reach a processing facility on Israel's coast by Sunday afternoon.Long considered empty of natural resources in an otherwise oil-rich part of the world, two massive offshore natural gas fields were discovered off of the Mediterranean coast starting in 2009. The Tamar field, which is being developed by Houston-based Nobel Energy [NYSE- NBL] along with a number of Israeli-based companies, holds an estimated 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Discovered in 2010, the much larger Leviathan Field is said to contain nearly 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In addition to Nobel energy, Australia's Woodside Petroleum [ASX- WPL] is reportedly in negotiations for a 30% stake in developing the Leviathan Field.
The finds could not only help Israel become energy independent over the next several decades, but could make Israel a net exporter of energy once full scale production begins.
The Leviathan field is adjacent to another gas field called the Aphrodite gas field that's been claimed by Cyprus and is also being developed by Nobel energy. During the recent banking crisis, there was talk of the Cypriots approaching the Russians and securing a bailout by collateralizing a percentage of the offshore natural gas deposits. There has also been talk of Israel and Cyprus jointly marketing natural gas to European markets.