|Noble Energy’s Eastern Mediterranean exploration. Source: Noble Energy. Click to enlarge.|
Texas-based Noble Energy, Inc. announced a significant natural gas discovery at the Leviathan exploration prospect offshore Israel. The results from the well confirm the pre-drill estimated resource range, with a gross mean for Leviathan of 16 trillion cubic feet (450 billion cubic meters). The Leviathan field is estimated to cover approximately 125 square miles (325 square kilometers) and, as a result of its size, will require two or more appraisal wells to further define total gas resources, according to Noble.
Leviathan-1, located in approximately 5,400 feet (1,645 meters) of water, is about 80 miles (130 kilometers) offshore of Haifa and 29 miles (47 kilometers) southwest of the Tamar discovery. Drilled in the Rachel license, the well encountered a minimum of 220 feet (67 meters) of net natural gas pay in several subsalt Miocene intervals. Apparent reservoir quality is very good, and the intervals discovered are geologically similar to those intersected at Tamar.
Drilling at Leviathan-1 will continue to a planned total depth of 23,600 feet (7,200 meters) to evaluate two additional intervals. Current well depth is 16,960 feet (5,170 meters). Results from the deeper tests, which have a low chance of success, are expected over the next couple of months.
Noble’s second contracted rig will arrive in the Eastern Mediterranean in early 2011 to spud a Leviathan appraisal well located 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of the discovery well.
Leviathan is the latest major discovery for Noble Energy and is easily the largest exploration discovery in our history. In the past two years, we and our partners have made three significant natural gas discoveries in the Levantine basin. Total gross mean resources discovered are estimated to be approximately 25 trillion cubic feet (700 billion cubic meters), with nearly 8.5 trillion cubic feet (240 billion cubic meters) net to Noble Energy’s interest. The Leviathan discovery has further confirmed our geologic models and interpretation of this basin and validates that it contains significant natural gas resources.—Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy’s Chairman and CEO
Noble Energy operates Leviathan, offshore Israel, with a 39.66% working interest. Other interest owners are Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration with 22.67% each and Ratio Oil Exploration with the remaining 15%. The Noble also operates Tamar in the Matan license and Dalit in the Michal licenses with 36% working interests.
An estimated 122 trillion cubic feet (tcf) (mean estimate) of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas is present in the Levant Basin Province in the eastern Mediterranean region, according to a US Geological Survey (USGS) published earlier this year. Technically recoverable resources are defined as those producible by using currently available technology and industry practices.
The Levant Basin Province is comparable to some of the other large provinces around the world, and its gas resources are bigger than anything we have assessed in the United States.—USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator Brenda Pierce
Dr. David Wurmser, founder and executive member of the Delphi Global Analysis Group, LLC (Delphi), said that the Leviathan discovery opens a new era of natural gas development offshore Israel. Wurmser served as the senior advisor to US Vice President Dick Cheney on Middle East and Terrorism. From 2002 to 2003, Wurmser served as senior advisor to Under Secretary of State John Bolton. Delphi is a geopolitical risk analysis and mitigation firm, with a focus on energy development in Israel and throughout the Levant Basin.
Production of so large a quantity of gas relative to Israel will trigger major political changes. A resource of this magnitude will allow Israel to implement an energy policy that advances security, economic growth, and the environment. From power generation to desalination to transportation, the benefits of significant Israeli natural gas production promise to be profound.—Dr. Wurmser