Israeli Court Ruling Pushes Leviathan Back Further

US operator Noble blames Israeli regulatory uncertainty for lack of progress at its Leviathan project. A lack of sales deals and low gas prices are more obvious targets.

Israel’s supreme court this week failed to approve a gas outline necessary to begin the development of the country’s biggest offshore gas field, 22 tcf Leviathan. US operator Noble may see this as a blessing in disguise, allowing it to stall on multi-billion dollar development until gas prices rebound.

The court on 27 March ruled that a ‘stability clause’ in the gas framework agreement signed by Noble, Israeli partner Delek and the government is unconstitutional.

The clause would have prevented regulatory change in the gas industry for 10 years. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who made the unprecedented move of speaking in front of the court in an attempt to push the outline through, now has one year to revise the deal. The court approved all other clauses within the outline, including Article 52, enabling the government to bypass an earlier monopoly ruling against the Leviathan partners (MEES, 19 February). (CONTINUED - 1078 WORDS)