London — Gas exports from the giant Leviathan field project offshore Israel have now started, project partner Delek Drilling said Wednesday, marking the first energy exports from Israel.
Receive daily email alerts, subscriber notes & personalize your experience.Register Now
Delek and its partners -- operator Noble Energy and Israel's Ratio Oil -- started production from Leviathan, which holds 22 Tcf (620 Bcm) of recoverable gas reserves, on December 31.
First exports to Egypt were delayed to late Tuesday, after being expected to begin shortly after the field startup.
"During the night, the flow of gas to Egypt began," Delek said in a statement.
In its first development phase, Leviathan has a production capacity of 1.2 Bcf/d (34 million cu m/d).
Leviathan was discovered in 2010 but development was slow due to difficulty in monetizing the resource.
It was finally agreed in February 2018 for Leviathan gas to be exported to Egypt under a long-term contract with local Egyptian supplier Dolphinus Holdings.
The $3.6 billion Leviathan project is the second major gas field in Israel following the startup of the Noble-operated Tamar field in 2013, which continues to serve the Israeli domestic market.
Tamar will also be used to supply Egypt under the Dolphinus deal.
Israeli energy minister Yuval Steinitz said at the end of 2019 that the start-up of Leviathan and exports to Egypt would turn Israel into an energy exporter "for the first time in its history."
"This is the most significant economic cooperation between Israel and Egypt since the peace treaty between the two states was signed [in 1979]," Steinitz said.
"This is an historic milestone for Israel. The natural gas revolution makes us an energy superpower, providing huge revenue for the state," he said.
Noble holds a 39.66% stake in Leviathan, with Delek holding 45.34% and Ratio Oil 15%.
Noble and its partners first signed a supply deal with Dolphinus in February 2018 for the supply of a total of 64 Bcm of gas from Leviathan and Tamar to Egypt over a 10-year period.
The contracts in October were extended to 15 years and total volumes contracted raised to 85 Bcm, with Leviathan gas making up more of the share of the supply mix between the two fields.
Israeli gas is piped via the EMG pipeline to Egypt which has been engineered to allow reverse flows in the Israel-Egypt direction.
The line started operations in 2008 to flow Egyptian gas to Israel and ran until 2012 when operations were halted as Cairo's gas production began to decline after the Arab Spring the previous year.
The EMG pipeline has a design capacity of 7 Bcm/year -- or 19 million cu m/d.