According to NATURAL GAS EUROPE , the controlling stakeholders offshore Israel – Noble Energy and Delek Group – are moving forward in their expansion and development plans for Tamar and Leviathan gas fields by trying to coordinate and schedule a sequence of drilling operations between the two projects.
A source told NGE that a tender was issued for a drilling rig, which is supposed to arrive at Israel later this year. The rig will drill a new well at Tamar field, Tamar 5, the source said. The new well is part of the expansion plan for the already producing field.
Speaking at the Herzeliya Conference June 16, Delek Group CEO Yossi Abu said that by the end of the year a drilling rig would arrive in Israeli waters. However he did not refer to the Tamar field. Drilling production wells in Leviathan will follow final investment decision at the end of this year, so not before the second half of next year, at the earliest.
After completing its work plan in Tamar the rig will then move on to drill a few production wells in Leviathan field, by which time the final investment decision to develop the field should have been taken, contingent on firm gas sales agreements. Leviathan partners are US Noble Energy (the operator with 39.7%), Delek Group (45.3%) and Ratio (15%).
According to a development plan approved this month by the energy ministry, Leviathan's three anchor customers for its phase 1 development are expected to be the domestic Israeli market, the Jordanian power company Nepco and the Egyptian consortium Dolphinus Holdings, which was supposed to purchase gas from Tamar last year in a deal that has not materialized.
Further on, the drilling rig is expected to drill for natural gas at the Aphrodite gas field offshore Cyprus which is controlled by US Noble Energy (35%) the Anglo-Dutch major Shell (35%) and Delek Group (30%).
Deadlock in Turkish negotiations
Meanwhile on the Turkey-Israel diplomatic front no progress has been made, despite promises to the contrary. It now seems that the chances of Israel exporting gas to Turkey are even lower than before.
In a background briefing this week to various Israeli media outlets, a high-level security official, understood to be defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, said that sooner or later Israel will confront Hamas in Gaza, which will end in the defeat of Hamas and the end of its rule in Gaza Strip.
Hamas is supported by Turkey, which has proposed building a port in Gaza as part of the settlement with Israel. However, the senior security official said that there is no reason to give the Gazans a port. "It is absolute nonsense," the security official was quoted as saying by Haaretz daily.
The crisis between Israel and Turkey stems from the Mavi Marara incident in 2010. In that incident, Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish citizens on a boat headed to Gaza, trying to break the naval blockade Israel imposed on Gaza. Lieberman, the new defence minister, has always opposed rapprochement with Turkey and a new confrontation on the Gazan front would serve his interests well.
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