Majors vie for stake in Leviathan gas field

Avner Oil, Delek Drilling, and Ratio say they have offers from leading international gas companies for up to 30% of their rights in the field.

The Israeli partners in Leviathan - Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L), Delek Drilling LP (TASE: DEDR.L), and Ratio Oil Exploration (1992) LP (TASE:RATI.L) - today notified the TASE that they had received offers for the acquisition of up to 30% of the rights to the natural gas licenses comprising the field from leading international gas exploration and production companies. The companies added that the offers are subject to several conditions, including due diligence, and additional information, which could be the basis for negotiations.

The Leviathan partners have made several statements about the possibility of bringing in a strategic partner to develop the gas field. Market sources believe that French oil major Total SA (NYSE: TOT; LSE: TTA; Euronext: FP) and Russia's Gazprom JSC (RTS: GAZP; LSE: GAZD; DAX: GAZ) are in a race to acquire rights to Leviathan, which is the largest natural gas discovery of the past decade. Gazprom's interest in Leviathan would be to prevent competition to its own hold on the European natural gas market.

Another potential partner is Australia's Woodside Energy Holdings Pty Ltd., which is part of a consortium with Delek to bid for Cyprus offshore energy licenses.

In today's notice to the TASE, the Leviathan partners gave no details of the offers, or any information about price or dates.

Noble Energy owns 39.66% of the Rachel and Amit licenses, which comprise Leviathan, Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) units Avner and Delek Drilling each own 22.67% and Ratio owns 15%.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on September 9, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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