MEMGA! Leviathan natural gas field comes online $150M under budget

Guest natural gas cheer-leading by David Middleton

MEMGA! = Making the Eastern Mediterranean Great Again!

It seems like just a few weeks ago that some nitwit was bemoaning the death of the eastern Mediterranean…

Noble Energy’s first gas from Leviathan comes in $150M under budget

HOUSTON – Noble Energy announced the commencement of natural gas production from the Leviathan field, the largest natural gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean.

David L. Stover, Noble Energy’s chairman and CEO, stated, “This is a historic day for Noble Energy. The safe and successful execution of the initial phase of Leviathan development has been world-class, continuing our exceptional track record of major project delivery. First gas is online less than three years from project sanction and capital expenditures were $150 million under budget. Combined with Tamar, our Israel assets provide a differential production profile and cash flow outlook for Noble Energy far into the future.”

J. Keith Elliott, the company’s senior vice president, offshore, commented, “The supply of natural gas from Leviathan will enhance Israel’s energy resilience, enable further reduction of coal usage for electricity generation, significantly improve air quality and ensure long-term affordable energy for Israel. Leviathan natural gas provides redundancy in supply domestically and helps transition Israel to become a significant exporter of energy to regional and global customers for the first time. I would like to congratulate and thank the many individuals whose unwavering dedication and commitment have been key to bringing Leviathan to production.”

The Leviathan field was discovered in 2010, and the initial development phase was sanctioned in 2017. The first phase of development consists of four production wells producing through two 18-inch, 73-mile subsea tiebacks to a processing platform offshore northern Israel. Located approximately 80 miles offshore in 5,500 feet of water, the field is estimated to have recoverable resources of 22 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas from 35 Tcf of in-place resource. The first phase of development has a designed production capacity of 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

Noble Energy holds a 39.66% working interest in the Leviathan project. Other interest owners include Delek Drilling LP with 45.34% and Ratio Oil Exploration LP with 15% interest.

World Oil

The primary energy of “1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day” is equivalent to 8 hours worth of all of the solar power output in Europe in 2018. Leviathan, a single natural gas field, will basically produce 1/3 the primary energy of all of the solar power in Europe.

The Leviathan natural gas field is in the largely unexplored Levant Basin.

Levant Basin (Offshore Technology)

The USGS estimates that the Levant Basin contains recoverable resources of 122 Tcf of natural gas and 1.7 billion bbl of crude oil.

The Levantine geological basin was formed in several main tectonic stages, and early Mesozoic rifting led to the shaping of a large graben and horst system, stretching across the onshore and offshore Levant Basin. The basin is infilled by post-rift tertiary sedimentation.

Reservoirs within the basin mainly contain Mesozoic and Paleogene sandstones, near shore marine and submarine sandstones and Jurassic and Cretaceous shelf-margin carbonates.

The Oligo-Miocene reservoir rocks at Leviathan field are deep-water slope and fan sandstones sealed by sedimentary rocks of the mid to late Miocene age and Messinian age salt. Natural gas at the Leviathan field was found in several sub-salt Miocene intervals.

As per the US Geological Survey (USGS) estimates, the entire Leviathan Basin holds a mean approximation of 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

The Leviathan gas field’s natural gas reserves are estimated to be 18 trillion cubic feet (tcf). Besides natural gas, the field is said to contain 600 million barrels of oil beneath the gas layer.

Offshore Technology
Schematic cross-section of the Leviathan Basin (Bowman, 2011).

Noble’s previous discoveries had already made Israel nearly self-sufficient regarding natural gas.

Noble Energy made the first discovery offshore Israel in 1999 and has discovered 40 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of recoverable natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. Mari-B delivered first domestic gas in 2004, and Tamar currently fuels 70 percent of the country’s electricity generation. The Leviathan field, which holds 33 Tcf of natural gas resources in place (22 Tcf recoverable) and was discovered in December 2010, 125 kilometers west of Haifa, was one of the largest natural gas finds in the world in the last decade. The Leviathan Partnership invested $3.75 billion in development of the Leviathan field. With a total production capacity of 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (Bcf/d), Leviathan will more than double the quantity of natural gas flowing to the Israeli economy today.

Noble Energy


About the WUWT Author

Just to avert some nitwit accusing me of being a shill for the fossil fuel industry… I have been a geologist/geophysicist in the oil & gas industry since 1981. As a proud member of the “climate wrecking industry”, I never hesitate to spread the word about our industry’s accomplishments. I recently attended a salt tectonics conference at the University of Texas at Austin. The opening remarks were by Texas State Geologist and Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology, Scott Tinker. His remarks mostly focused on how oil & gas are integral components in lifting people out of energy poverty and he closed with, “When someone asks you what you do, reply with ‘I work in the oil & gas industry, I lift people out of poverty. What do you do?’”

The “Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” is undeniable… And the Leviathan discovery is downright righteous!


Bowman, Steven. (2011). “Regional seismic interpretation of the hydrocarbon prospectivity of offshore Syria”. GeoArabia. 16.

Featured Image

Leviathan production facility (Offshore)

69 thoughts on “MEMGA! Leviathan natural gas field comes online $150M under budget

    • Sadly, here in the State of CA … our supermajority “leviathan” Legislature is Driving more and more citizens INTO energy poverty … and the shut-down and shut-off of all energy totally! (thanks PG&E!). The city of Berkeley has BANNED Nat. Gas entirely, and the State PUC promises to follow suit. When I am not using my Nat. Gas fired furnace in the winter … my monthly Gas bill is $8.00/mo. for water heating and cooking, because I have a 97% efficient tankless WH. Now the State wants me to PAY$ MORE … for inefficient electric instead. My costs will TRIPLE or more.

  1. Turkey is trying to thwart the Cyprus to Greece NG pipeline serving this field by declaring an exclusive economic zone between itself and Libya. They are already shipping jihadis to Tripoli to try to keep the GNA (Muslim Brotherhood) from being defeated there. Things could get really ugly if Turkey decides to invade Libya.

    • I just read that Egypt is going to send its army into Libya to help the LNA eradicate the GNA. The GNA controls about 5% of Libya. All Mediterranean countries are opposed to Turkey’s aggression. If Turkey gets desperate trying to save the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, we could see regional war break out.

    • FWIW, the Egyptian army entering Libya is just social media rumor at this point, but this is official

      “The duty of our troops there is coordination and they are currently providing it. There will be a Turkish lieutenant general in the operation centre there and they will direct the process. Our troops are already going there gradually.” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

    • Verrry interesting. link

      I wonder what President Trump will do. I was surprised and dismayed when he betrayed the Kurds. He probably doesn’t give two hoots about Greece. On the other hand, he would, IMHO, be a fool if he ticked off Israel.

        • From the, maybe you know because I have no clue, department:

          Turkey is a member of NATO and yet seems more problematic than any other member. For decades, Turkey has been trying to get into the EU.

          Is Turkey a bad fit? Is it prejudice on the part of the other western countries? Is Turkey a bad actor that doesn’t play well with others?

          When you look at some of the other basket cases that made it into the EU, you have to ask, why not Turkey?

          • Turkey’s a bad fit under the current Islamist dictatorship with neo-Ottoman aspirations. Return it to secular governance and there wouldn’t be the same problems.

    • That pipeline has nothing to do with this field. Leviathan is offshore Israel, not Cyprus. The pipeline goes to Israel.

      • There is a planned pipeline (can’t remember the name), that will be the deepest and longest in the world, that will go from this field to Cyprus and then to Greece. Greece, Cyprus and Israel just signed an agreement a few days ago.

        • That would enable Cyprus and Israel to export gas to Greece in the future. Leviathan is not dependent on this.

          Although Turkey opposes the project, the countries aim to reach a final investment decision by 2022 and have the pipeline completed by 2025 to help Europe diversify its energy resources.

          European governments and Israel last year agreed to proceed with the so-called EastMed project, a $6 to $7 billion pipeline project that is expected initially to carry 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Israeli and Cypriot waters to the Greek island of Crete, on to the Greek mainland and into Europe’s gas network via Italy.

          This pipeline is relevant to future exploration and development of the Levant Basin.

          Continued Exploration and Discovery
          The activity offshore Israel was followed in 2015 with the discovery of the giant Zohr gas field by ENI in Egyptian waters in the northern extent of the Nile Delta and in early 2018 with the discovery of the Calypso gas field southwest of Cyprus. The gas was found in large carbonate buildups marking a new attractive play in this area. The Eastern Mediterranean, Levant Basin shared by Israel, Egypt, Cyprus and Lebanon is now becoming a global hotspot for exploration, driven through license offerings by all four countries. Israel just announced its second offshore bid round for five exploration zones located in the southern part of its economic water. Hopes are high that with the large quantities to be found in the Levant Basin the area will provide gas not only for the region but also to the European markets. Connecting the two areas requires the construction of the longest and deepest pipeline in the world but the prospects of having an additional source of gas are extremely appealing to the European Union leadership and feasibility studies on the East Mediterranean pipeline, carried out in cooperation between Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy are well underway.

          The Leviathan pipeline goes to Israel…

          The full hookup of the Leviathan platform and living quarters, along with platform commissioning, “continues to progress toward first production in December.” With total production capacity of 1.2 Bcf/d, Leviathan would more than double the quantity of gas flowing to the Israeli economy today.

          Firm contracts are in place to deliver 3 Tcf of supply from the Leviathan and Tamar fields for 15-year terms. Sales volumes from the company’s Israel assets totaled 234 MMcfe/d in 3Q2019. During the quarter, the Tamar field reached a milestone of 2 Tcf of produced gas with runtime of 99%-plus since its startup.

          Noble expects to sell an average of 800 MMcf/d from Leviathan in 2020. Supply would be transmitted through two 120-kilometer subsea pipelines directly to the Leviathan platform. Gas is to be processed at the platform before the treated gas and stabilized condensate flow through a northern entry pipeline connected to the Israel Natural Gas Lines, the national gas transmission system.

          Noble operates Leviathan and holds a 39.66% working interest in the field, along with other partners Delek Drilling (22.67%), Avner Oil Exploration (22.67%) and Ratio Oil Exploration 1992 LP (15%).

          Last summer Delek and Noble reportedly were working to allow liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and were negotiating with Golar LNG Ltd. and Exmar NV to finance, build, operate and maintain a floating LNG facility.

          Israel also reached a landmark settlement with Egypt earlier this year, possibly opening the way for more gas consumption in the Middle East. Noble and Delek signed a deal last year with Egyptian East Gas Co. to enable gas exports into the country.

          Noble COO Brent Smolik in May said the “key near-term focus” from a marketing standpoint was the Eastern Mediterranian Gas (EMG) pipeline, which would move gas into Egypt. Noble noted Thursday that it completed a deal earlier this month to buy a stake in EMG.

        • Very thorough, thank you. I wasn’t implying that Leviathan is dependent on the EastMed pipeline, but export of that gas to Europe is.

          The yet to be sanctioned Aphrodite field in Cyprus and the Phase 1B development of the Leviathan gas field in Israel are two projects in the region that would benefit from the development of the EastMed pipeline as they are highly contingent on securing an export gas market.

          • That’s why they want to build it… And Turkey will not be able to prevent it.

            Turkey cannot stop the pipeline project to connect Greece and Italy to Cypriot and Israeli gas reserves since it is a signatory of an energy treaty that prevents such a move, wrote energy affairs editor Kostis Geropoulos for New Europe, on Thursday.


            “Whoever, has EEZ rights over the seas between Cyprus and Crete can only make environmental objections and may request rerouting of the pipeline, but according to the Energy Charter Treaty cannot stop it,” Geropoulos said.


      • Not a criticism of your article – which is a great article – but an idle observation. The stock price is the first thing I checked to see how this big news has landed. ‘Kinda surprised’, to answer your question.

        • Noble is also a drilling contractor. Hybrid companies tend to not be understood by Wall Street.

        • Interesting observation.

          I’ve seen guys Bigging Up Israel’s prospects vis a vis the Leviathan field for years now, so one always has to suspect market making when seeing coverage.

          Good news that the Eastern Med seems to contain so much bounty, but conversely probably bad news for the gas industry in general, given that with US fracking, and the Russian pipelines, natural gas does seem to be becoming over abundant ?

          Further out on a limb of lets suppose, the CC spectre could serve to ensure the price stays above the too cheap to meter stories that were put about here in the UK back in the late 60’s and in connection with North Sea Gas 🙂

        • Buy on the rumor sell on the news. It just means it was common knowledge and was built into the price. Other factors probably in play also.

    • The chart for this stock shows those who new about the upcoming news started buying at $20.91 on Dec 4.
      The price reached $24.84 on Dec 31 when this news was released. A profit taking sell off began that day.
      So yes, the news did drive the short term price up.

  2. David,
    Thanks for this interesting news! It will have far reaching geopolitical implications! I have a couple of questions….
    Given that all three wells are located within (porous?) sandstone layers, no fracking was needed, correct?
    In the 2nd figure, immediately below the 7200M bottom of Leviathan well, there is a ‘dome’ or intrusion of different rock indicated. There are 3 other similar ‘domes’ indicated across the bottom of that figure, as well? What are these structures?

    • There probably was some sort of frac job. Almost all wells in clastic reservoirs are frac’ed to some extent. However, it clearly isn’t like a shale play, where horizontal wells with massive frac jobs are required.

      I think the “domes” are basement features… But, I don’t know for sure. They appear to be igneous intrusive structures.

      • I’m guessing those are more likely salt domes rather than intrusions. They dome up the overlying strata and don’t over-maturate the hydrocarbons. The Neuquen Basin of Argentina has both salt domes and intrusions and the areas close to the intrusions are asphalt and bitumen sources, ie over-maturated. I’m guessing from your cheerleading that you are not a Club of Rome fan? I’m not for sure.

  3. David your articles make me wish I had taken some Geology in college. Had to go to night school for nine years and never had the opportunity to study as an elective. After that life got in the way. Thank you for your valuable tutelage and your humor.

    • The coolest thing is that I love geology far more now, than when I graduated from college in 1981… because climate change… 😉

    • Perhaps things will slow down a bit for you, in which case I heartily recommend returning for school. I loved taking Geology- it was a blast!

  4. Perhaps things will slow down a bit for you, in which case I heartily recommend returning for school. I loved taking Geology- it was a blast!

      • David
        Thanks for all of your articles! Some of us are getting close to 60 years old/young, keg might be a little much… I think a 6 pack might be enough!

  5. David
    You said, “The primary energy of ‘1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day’ is equivalent to 8 hours worth of all of the solar power output in Europe in 2018. Leviathan, a single natural gas field, will basically produce 1/3 the primary energy of all of the solar power in Europe.”

    Since the sun only shines 12 hours a day, on average, but the early morning and late afternoon sunlight is weak, the typical time of production of PV electricity is close to 8 hours per day. So, shouldn’t your remark be that ” Leviathan will basically produce approximately the equivalent of the primary energy of all of the solar power in Europe.”?

  6. Dave, thanks for the update. You do far better reporting and fact gathering than highly paid media sources. You are great ally of global economic development and sane environmentalism.

  7. the proximity of the Leviathan gas field to Gaza probably nixes any thoughts of a 2-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians.

    • I don’t know. Jack Jordan for a Palistinovo a la original “two state solution”. And carve Turkey for a Kurdovo. These solutions may yet be viable.

  8. More good news. With the increased amount of new fields being discovered and coming into play we/world can be assured of affordable and reliable energy for centuries. The “peak oil” narrative has disappeared. Just like the Climate Change due to AGW narrative will disappear.

  9. A little perspective is needed here. Entire Leviathan recoverable reserve is less than a year of Russian production. It is therefore not economically feasible to lay down an undersea pipeline to Europe at a cost of >$20B.

    • “”Perspective* would be that this is a YUGE natural gas discovery in a relatively unexplored basin, yet it’s anticipated maximum production rate is only about 1/100 that of all of the gas fields in the US.

      It doesn’t have to be bigger than some other country, it just has to be big enough to justify the costs of developing it.

    • There are already plans to lay down such a pipeline.
      This discovery just makes that existing plan more viable.

  10. It’s possible I read this here a few years ago, but I believe Israel’s offshore gas supplies make it self-sufficient not only in energy, but in water as well. There’s so much gas they can use it for desalination of seawater.

  11. So, what happens to the volume removed? If that fills in (how could it not?) might that lower sea level a tad?

    If the world’s oceans have 360 million km sq in area, one millimeter of sea level rise is 360 billion cubic meters. A trillion cubic feet is 28 billion cubic meters.

    So, removing 13 trillion cubic feet from the bottom of the Mediterranean should (eventually??) lower sea level worldwide by 1mm.


    • Not entirely, as you have to account for the warming and thus expansion of the oceans… It doesn’t really matter WHY the Earth warmed, only that it did. Unless the current natural process reverses, the Earth’s oceans are warming.

      • I think you missed my point. I’m only referring to the impact of extracting the gas. Of course all the other things still happen.

        In other words, for every 13 trillion cu ft of gas extracted, sea level will be 1mm lower due to the volume than it would have been without the volume subtracted (e.g. if the gas was taken from a land based well).

    • That is 13 TCF of gas measured at standard temperature and pressure. The gas in the subsurface reservoir is far,far more compressed in volume. Occasionally there is a bit of surface subsidence, but usually just lowering the pressure allows remaining gas to expand and fill the space. (Note that the field will ultimately only produce 22 TCF of the 35 TCF gas in place. ) If the gas is in contact with water in the rock layers, the entire volume removed can be compensated for by the expansion of water. Water is actually somewhat compressible, and when great pressures and volumes are involved, it is not negligible, in fact, creates the “water drive” to displace the produced hydrocarbons and aid in the recovery.

      • Yep. There may be some subsidence below the platform, but it will be negligible relative to the Mediterranean.

  12. BAH! Nothing to see here!!! Fossil fuels are past peak (I think that was like 1980 or something???) and we can only be saved by lavish investments into Green Energy that make the politically connected rich.

    (Yes, this was sarcasm for those that are sarcasm-challenged)

  13. David the hole blow videos bring back memories.
    I began with Pennzoil in the early ’70s and my first few field experiences were in the cane fields and marshes around Thibideaux Best/worst hole blow I saw happened when a marsh buggy parked right over a hole which really unloaded when shot. Fanciest Cajun cursing I ever did hear.

    Sure miss the Boudreaux Thibideaux jokes, and of course that wonderful food and hospitality.

    Keep up the fine work. You are a word smith of the first water, to use a Robert Heinlein compliment.

  14. But it won’t be needed will it with the batteryfication of renewables for the grid plus all transport and now the battery robots running around after them-
    You just have to imagineer these things and voila!…. the planet is saved from nasty Leviathans.

    No problems so long as they don’t fit in the wheely bin-

  15. Tel Aviv shouldn’t get any ideas about exporting some of that bounty to Syria or Iran, the US senate might sanction Noble, like the NordStream 2 operators.

  16. $150 million UNDER budget? Did I read that correctly? Wow. If I was in the business I’d want those people on my next job. Sounds like a great crew and project managers.

  17. Sadly you’d have to be a stockholder prior to 2006 to be in profit with Noble at the moment, and dividend yield is below inflation. Continuously eroding shareholder value is not a recipe for long-term survival, a position shared across the O&G sector by and large.

  18. Here we sit on trillions of feet of natural gas in BC while contemplating our righteous belly button. It’s a good thing we don’t give a dam about good health care or education because they can get pricey!

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