JERUSALEM, March 14 (Reuters) - The U.S.-Israeli exploration group that discovered natural gas at Israel's off-shore Tamar field said it was meeting with Israel Electric Corp (IEC) later on Wednesday to sign a deal to supply the state-owned utility with $8 billion worth of gas.
Trading in Tel Aviv for the Israeli companies in the consortium was halted briefly before they announced the meeting, though they said there was no guarantee the agreement would be signed.
A group led by Texas-based Noble Energy is developing the Tamar prospect, which contains an estimated 9.1 trillion cubic feet of gas. Production there is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2013.
Noble holds 36 percent of Tamar. Isramco Negev owns 28.75 percent, Avner Oil Exploration and Delek Drilling hold 15.625 percent each and Dor Gas Exploration has a 4 percent stake.
Delek Drilling and Avner are both part of the Delek Group conglomerate.
The group said it would make a further statement after the deal was signed. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by David Holmes)