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Israel PM announces major offshore gas deal


Benjamin_Netanyahu_2012Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday announced a major deal between his government and a consortium including US firm Noble Energy on natural gas production in the Mediterranean Sea.

“The agreement will bring in hundreds of billions of shekels (tens of billions of dollars) to Israeli citizens over the coming years,” Netanyahu said in a televised statement, without providing details.

“I shall bring this agreement to the cabinet on Sunday. I’m sure it will pass by a large majority of votes.”

Negotiations have been under way with a consortium including Noble and locally based Delek Group, with talks involving natural gas pricing for Israeli reserves and future production.

Noble and Delek have since 2013 produced gas from the Tamar field off the Israeli coast. They have also teamed up to develop the offshore Leviathan field, considered the largest in the Mediterranean.

The negotiations have been controversial in Israel, with critics fearing regulations would overly favour the companies involved.

In May, antitrust commissioner David Gilo said he was resigning over his opposition to the dominant position of Noble and Delek in the Leviathan and Tamar fields.

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