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Israel firm loses major gas deal with Palestinians

The size of the Leviathan field is estimated at 18.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas

Published: Updated:

An Israeli partner in the Leviathan offshore gas field said on Wednesday the Palestinians had cancelled a $1.2-billion supply contract, citing delays by Israel’s Antitrust Authority.

Delek said it had informed the Tel Aviv stock exchange that a 20-year contract it had signed with the Palestine Power Generation Co was cancelled by the Palestinians on Tuesday.

Delek said this was because of “non-fulfullment of the conditions precedent set forth in the agreement, and essentially non-receipt of the approval of the Antitrust Authority, the delay in approving the development plan of the Leviathan project as well as other regulatory approvals required by law”.

Delek’s statement said the contract’s cancellation would be effective within 30 days.

On December 23, the Antitrust Authority moved to scrap a deal that gave U.S. giant Noble Energy and Delek control over the Leviathan field, citing monopoly concerns.

The size of the Leviathan field is estimated at 18.9 trillion cubic feet (535 billion cubic meters) of natural gas, along with 34.1 million barrels of condensate, making it the largest gas deposit found in the world in a decade.

The Antitrust Authority decision, pending a confirmation hearing, effectively dismantles the monopoly held by Noble and Delek over Leviathan and Israel’s smaller offshore gas findings.

There was no immediate comment from the Palestinians on the contract’s cancellation.

Offshore gas findings have shifted Israel’s supply from costly and unreliable imports to a growing self-sufficiency and the potential to become an energy exporter, recently advancing agreements to export gas to neighbors Jordan and Egypt.

The Jewish state had relied on Egypt for roughly 40 percent of its gas needs, but in April 2012 Egypt annulled the contract following a spate of bomb attacks targeting the pipeline used to transport natural gas to Israel and Jordan.