Exxon Mobil Corp. is in talks with the Leviathan partners to build a floating liquefied natural gas ship that would allow exports from Israel's largest offshore gas field, people familiar with the matter have told "Bloomberg."
The project would enable the Leviathan partners to connect to LNG facilities in Egypt without the need to build expensive pipeline infrastructure.
An Exxon representative told "Bloomberg" that the company was still evaluating its options. "It’s too early to comment on specific development and production timelines," the representative said.
The Leviathan field will begin producing gas in October 2019, and while the Leviathan partners have signed deals to meet strong demand in Egypt, Jordan and Israel, they haven’t yet found a way to export to Europe or East Asia.
Delek Drilling LP (TASE: DEDR.L), the biggest shareholder in the Leviathan field, is looking into several options, such as buying a stake in one of Egypt’s LNG sites.
The talks with Exxon are the latest sign that an unofficial energy boycott on Israel, imposed by leading Arab countries, is fading, "Bloomberg" adds. Energy majors that partner with big Arab firms have hesitated to do business with Israel in the past, for fear of risking ties with states that control some of the world’s biggest energy reserves and have been hostile toward Israel until now.
Israel and the Persian Gulf states both fear Iran, leading some Arab leaders, such as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, to break longstanding diplomatic taboos on Israel. Covert trade with the Arab world, mainly involving Israel’s technology sector, also has grown.
For Exxon, expanding into Israel would reflect the company’s growing ambitions in the eastern Mediterranean, which includes Egyptian, Israeli, Lebanese and Cypriot waters. Exxon established a foothold in the region in February, when it found an offshore reservoir in Cypriot waters that’s about one-third the size of Leviathan.
Exxon recently met with Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz in Houston about participating in an upcoming tender for new offshore drilling blocs, a person familiar with the matter told "Bloomberg."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 10, 2019
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