Israel's Gas Bonanza
- Robin Beckwith (Staff Writer JPT/JPT Online)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 46 - 49
- 2011. Copyright is held partially by SPE. Contact SPE for permission to use material from this document.
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In late December 2010, Noble Energy confirmed one of the world’s largest gas finds of the decade—the 16-Tcf (450-Bcm) Leviathan field—located in approximately 5,400 ft of water approximately 80 miles offshore Haifa, Israel. The find is 29 miles southwest of the Tamar field, which is approximately 56 miles offshore west of Haifa and which yielded the world’s largest gas discovery in 2009: an estimated 8.4 Tcf. (See Fig. 1.)
Noble Energy (39.66%) operates Leviathan, with Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration (22.67% each) and Ratio Oil Exploration (15%). Noble also operates Tamar and Dalit, with 36% working interests.
Supported by 3D seismic acquisitions in 2009 and 2010, Noble has identified a number of additional prospects and leads on its significant acreage position offshore Israel and Cyprus.
Israel now faces the unprecedented prospect of at least partial energy independence—that afforded by the domestic presence of natural gas offshore in the subsalt and Plio-Pleistocene reservoirs of the Levant basin province.
The Gas Bonanza: Sudden or Gradual?
While news of the gas bonanza appears dramatic, the shift in Israel’s energy stance represents the continuation of a trend building since the discovery offshore Ashqelon in 1999 of the Noa gas field and the Mari-B area in 2000. The impact of this trend started to be felt early 2004 when Mari-B—Israel’s first offshore natural gas production facility—began supplying significant quantities of natural gas to the country’s domestic market.
According to online Israeli state records, Israel has produced gas since 1958. However, the largest annual amount—5.2 Bcf in 1969—represents only 12.4% of 2004’s 42.1 Bcf. And between 2004 and 2008, the entire production of 401 Bcf was 5.5 times greater than all the gas produced in Israel between 1958 and 2003. By 2009, more than half the natural gas consumed in the country was pro-vided by Israel’s Yam Tethys consortium, with the remainder supplied by Egypt-based East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG).
The Levant Basin Province
A report issued by the US Geological Survey (USGS) in March 2010 assessed the undiscovered oil and gas resources of the Levant basin province (Fig. 2) in the eastern Mediterranean. The area, encompassing approximately 32,000 sq miles, covers onshore and offshore territory including the Gaza Strip, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Cyprus. The USGS estimates the area holds a mean of 1.7 billion bbl of recoverable oil and a mean of 122 Tcf of recoverable gas. The assessment relies heavily on work done in the prior decade by Michael A. Gardosh of the Geophysical Institute of Israel, and Yehezkel Druckman and Binyamin Buchbinder of the Geological Survey of Israel.
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