Leviathan gas platform construction enters final stages

Israel Materials 5 September 2019 09:30 (UTC +04:00)

The vast Leviathan reservoir energy project is entering its final stages prior to supplying Israel and its neighbors with natural gas, executives from Noble Energy announced Wednesday, with the Leviathan platform’s five production decks scheduled to arrive to offshore Israel in the coming days, reports Trend citing to Jerusalem Post.

Upon arrival, the five operational production structures – the 38,000-ton topsides of the Leviathan platform – will conclude an 11,500 km. trans-Atlantic journey from the Gulf of Mexico, and will be installed by the world’s largest offshore semi-submersible crane vessel over the next four weeks.

Located 10 km. from Israel’s shores, the completed Leviathan platform is scheduled to undergo a series of commissioning tests before starting to pump gas to Israel’s domestic market in December. Since the discovery of the Leviathan platform in 2010, Noble Energy and partners Delek Drilling and Ratio Oil Exploration have invested a total of $3.75 billion in the project.

“Today, from the Tamar gas field, we supply Israel with about one billion cubic feet of gas a day – Leviathan will double the capacity into the domestic market,” Bini Zomer, Noble Energy’s VP of Regional Affairs, told reporters at the company’s Israel headquarters in Herzliya.

“In addition to further capacity, Leviathan provides Israel with a second platform, a second entry point of natural gas and a second reservoir. It offers real security of supply for Israel.”

Beyond boosting domestic supply, Israel is also due to become a significant energy exporter to its neighbors once gas starts to flow.

In February 2018, Delek Drilling and Noble Energy signed a $15 billion decade-long deal to supply 64 billion cu.m. of natural gas to Egypt from the Leviathan and Tamar gas fields, with the latter already supplying natural gas to Israel since 2013.

The deal with Egypt follows a September 2016 agreement worth $10 billion between Jordan’s National Electric Power Company Ltd. and the Leviathan project partners to supply a gross quantity of 45 billion cu.m. of natural gas to Israel’s eastern neighbors over a 15-year period.

Despite some opposition in the Jordanian parliament to the deal, Zomer said gas exports to Jordan will commence as scheduled on January 1, 2020.

The topsides will house the platform’s gas processing facilities, worker accommodation, work areas, helipad and platform operation facilities, including power generation, water desalination and waste treatment.

The structures are 102 m. long, 80 m. wide and will stand 47 m. above sea level. The platform flare boom, permitting the safe burning of gas, will stretch to 130 m. above sea level. According to a decision by the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, unauthorized maritime traffic will not be able to sail within a radius of three km. from the platform.

“The platform jacket is already installed and the pipelines to shore are already installed and tested,” said George Hatfield, Noble Energy VP, Major Projects. “We had over 150 activities in more than 30 countries for this project, bringing technical expertise from across the world. Ultimately, it’s all about to be here in Israel.”

Hatfield said the company had endured “challenging times” finding contractors willing to work in Israel at first, especially due to commercial interests in other regions associated with global energy production. Many firms, he said, registered separate company names prior to partnering with the Leviathan project.

“What you are seeing now is companies are more openly coming to Israel, and they are proud,” said Hatfield.

One of the largest natural gas fields discovered worldwide in the last decade, the Leviathan reservoir is expected to contain up to 605 billion cu.m. of natural gas, equivalent to 65 years of domestic gas consumption.

Boasting four production wells, each with a production capacity of 300 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, the Leviathan development will offer a total annual production capacity of approximately 12 billion cu.m..

Natural gas from the reservoir will be transmitted through two 120 km. subsea pipelines directly to the Leviathan platform, where it will be processed prior to flowing through a northern entry pipeline connected to the Israel Natural Gas Lines (INGL) national gas transmission system.

Despite assurances of improved air quality by switching from coal to natural gas and the promise of significant state revenues, the construction of the platform – which will be visible from Israel’s coastline – has led to opposition from environmentalist groups and some residents.

“One of the challenges that we face is being the leader in providing natural gas to Israel. An industry over 100 years old in the United States is still in its early stages here,” said Zomer. “Part of what we are tasked to do is to educate. Over time, people will see the benefits. In the coming years, when it will become part of the landscape; we’ll get there.”

Should demand from Israel’s neighbors for natural gas outstrip maximum supply in years to come, Zomer said Noble Energy will consider expanding the project through the construction of additional pipelines.

The potential second stage of construction, also known as the regional export module (REM), would proceed according to confirmed deals, and would require additional investment exceeding $1 billion.