JERUSALEM, March 30 (Reuters) - Israeli energy conglomerate Delek Group reported a wider quarterly profit, boosted by the sale of two natural gas sites and higher income from its exploration and production operations.
Delek said on Thursday it earned 375 million shekels ($104 million) in the fourth quarter, up from 54 million a year earlier.
Delek, through its subsidiaries, has major shares in the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields off Israel's coast. Profit from exploration and production was 119 million shekels in the quarter, compared with 58 million in the same period in 2015.
It said it produced a record 9.4 billion cubic metres of natural gas at Tamar in the quarter, reaching peak production after four years.
During the quarter, it sold its stakes in the Karish and Tanin gas fields as mandated by the government to sell off some assets in a bid to open the sector to competition. The $148 million sale led to a gain of 253 million shekels, Delek said.
It expects production at Leviathan to begin by the end of 2019. The project's partners have budgeted $3.75 billion for its development.
Delek declared a dividend of 200 million shekels, or 16.69 shekels a share, for the quarter.
$1 = 3.6176 shekels Reporting by Steven Scheer