Leviathan group starts plans for Israeli floating LNG terminal
JERUSALEM, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Partners in the Leviathan gas field in the eastern Mediterranean have approved nearly $100 million of spending on preparation for expansion that includes a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal off the coast of Israel, the companies said on Tuesday.
Leviathan, a deep-sea field with huge deposits, came online at the end of 2019 and produces 12 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year for sale to Israel, Egypt and Jordan. The idea is to boost capacity to include sizeable volumes for Europe as it seeks to reduce dependence on Russian energy.
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"The development plan ... will enable a significant increase in production to 21 bcm (billion cubic metres) a year," said Yigal Landau, CEO of Ratio Energies.
NewMed Energy, partner with Ratio and Chevron in Leviathan, said the group will spend $45 million to plan initial production expansion and a further $51.5 million on preparations for the floating LNG terminal.
The floating facility is expected to have an annual LNG capacity of about 4.6 million tonnes, or 6.5 bcm, NewMed said.
Israel, Egypt and the European Union last year signed a memorandum of understanding for Israeli gas to be sent to Europe through LNG plants in Egypt.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met U.S. energy envoy Amos Hochstein on Tuesday and discussed the Israeli energy sector's potential to help Europe as well as the Middle East, where Israel hopes to normalise ties with more Arab countries.
"Some of the regional stability we aspire to comes, among other things, from stability in the energy market," Cohen said, adding that Israel is strengthening ties with its neighbours to establish new supply chains.
It will take about three years from a final investment decision before the extra gas begins flowing to Egyptian LNG plants and the local market, said an industry source familiar with the project. The floating LNG component will come online after that.
"The local, regional and global markets are awaiting this move and we are working vigorously to advance it," said NewMed CEO Yossi Abu. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch Editing by David Goodman )