JERUSALEM, Sept 9 The U.S.-Israeli exploration
group developing the Leviathan natural gas field off Israel's
shore said on Sunday it is considering offers to sell up to 30
percent of the rights to the field.
The group received offers from "leading international
companies that work in the field of natural gas exploration and
production", Avner Oil Exploration, one of the
partners, said in a letter to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
It provided no further details on who made the offers but
said the partners would "study the offers and examine the
possibility of starting negotiations."
Leviathan was discovered in 2010 and has estimated reserves
of 17 trillion cubic feet of gas, making it the world's biggest
offshore discovery of the past decade. The consortium hopes to
find some 600 million barrels of oil beneath the gas.
Texas-based Noble Energy has a 39.66 percent share
in the field. Israel's Delek Group, through
subsidiaries Delek Drilling and Avner, has a 45.34
percent stake. Ratio Oil Exploration holds the
remaining 15 percent.
The group has said in recent months it is looking to bring
in other stakeholders and raise cash to help develop the
project, which is expected to begin production in 2017.
Noble has had some technical difficulties drilling at
Leviathan, which is about 80 miles (130 kilometers) off Israel's
In May, it was forced to stop drilling one of the wells
after reaching 21,400 feet, the deepest known penetration in the
eastern Mediterranean, because of high well pressure and the
mechanical limits of the well bore design.