An Israeli company has said there is a high probability of further major natural gas deposits off the northern Israeli coast. A statement released by the Israel Opportunity energy exploration partnership said that prospecting at the Pelagic group of deep-sea fields, west of Haifa, showed a potential 189 billion cubic metres of gas and 1.4 billion barrels of oil there.
"The quantity of gas discovered in the licences, and at high probabilities, are the third-largest discovered so far off Israel's shores," Chairman Ronny Helman said.
"This quantity ensures Israel's energy future for many decades," he said.
The existing Leviathan and Tamar fields, 130 kilometres off Haifa, are believed to hold some 450 billion cubic metres and 238 billion metres of gas respectively.
Israel is pushing to get its new gas fields on line swiftly to make up the shortfall in supply caused by the collapse of imports from neighbouring Egypt.
"These are initial estimates after exploratory drilling at the start of this year, but the probability that these estimates are realised is highly important, Israeli energy specialist Amit Mor, CEO of consulting firm Eco Energy, told AFP.
Israel generates 40 per cent of its electricity from natural gas and wants to raise that figure, reducing the use of more costly and polluting diesel and coal.
Until last year, Egypt provided 43 per cent of Israel's gas but the flow was regularly disrupted after the overthrow of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
In April this year, Egypt annulled the supply contract altogether.