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Israel Authorises Noble to Develop Noa Gas Field

Source: Reuters 6/13/2011, Location: Middle East

Israel's Infrastructure Ministry has authorised Texas-based Noble Energy to begin developing the Noa natural gas field due to an expected shortage of gas in 2012.

The ministry has approved the development of the northern part of the Noa field, where the Noa-1 drill is located. The ministry said in a statement that other parts of the field are not expected to yield substantial amounts of gas.

The northern part of the Noa field is expected to produce 1.2 billion cubic meters of gas. Noble has until July 15 to submit its development plans.

Noble leads the Yam Thetis exploration group, which is producing gas at the nearby Mary field off Israel's southern Mediterranean coast. A source in the energy market estimated it would take a year to develop the Noa field.

Last month Yam Thetis signed a deal to sell 1.2 billion cubic metres of natural gas to Israel's Oil Refineries for an estimated $350 million. Following the signing of the agreement, Yam Thetis said it was examining the development of the Noa field. Yam Thetis supplies Israel with most of its natural gas.

About 40 percent of Israel's gas comes from Egypt, but delivery has been halted twice since February due to attacks on gas infrastructure in the northern Sinai. Egypt resumed delivery of gas to Israel on Friday.

Noble has a 47.1 percent stake in Yam Thetis, while Delek Drilling has 25.5 percent and Avner Oil has 23 percent. Delek Drilling and Avner are both part of Delek Group.

Noble, Delek and Avner are partners in a second group that is developing the much larger Tamar gas field off Israel's northern coast. Production at Tamar is expected to begin in 2013. Israel faces a shortage of gas next year as the Mary field is running dry.

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