February 3, 2020 / 11:57 AM / 22 days ago

UPDATE 1-Delek expects Leviathan expansion investment decision in 2020

(Adds quotes, detail)

By Steven Scheer and Ari Rabinovitch

TEL AVIV, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Israel's Delek Drilling expects a final investment decision this year on expanding exports from the Leviathan gas field using either an LNG facility in Egypt or a floating terminal, its CEO said on Monday.

The offshore Leviathan project came online a month ago and is already supplying Egypt and Jordan with natural gas. The project is led by partners Delek Drilling, a unit of Delek Group , and Texas-based Noble Energy.

Delek Drilling CEO Yossi Abu told a conference of investors that in order to further develop Leviathan, his company was in talks with banks about securing $2.5 billion in long-term funding, either through bank financing or bonds.

He later told Reuters that his goal is to turn Leviathan -- one of the world's largest gas finds of the past decade -- into a global supplier now that it already supplies its home market and neighbouring countries.

"Potentially, we can reach anywhere LNG reaches in the world, so any place that consumes LNG we can be a supplier," Abu said, citing Europe and Asia.

Delek can use the Idku LNG plant in Egypt, which is partly owned by Shell, Delek's partner in developing the Aphrodite gas field off Cyprus. Or it could build its own floating LNG terminal near Leviathan off Israel's Mediterranean coast.

Abu said it was too early to say which method would be used and that the company was examining the commercial and regulatory aspects, as well as the risk and reward of each project.

However, he noted that since Delek already works with Shell, it was looking for ways to "cooperate with respect to exporting LNG to the world" from Idku.

Either way, the cost of ramping up production from a current plan of 12 billion cubic metres of gas a year to 24 BCM will require billions of dollars and will take up to three years to complete.

"The target is to try and get the earliest possible investment decision and we hope do it in 2020," Abu said.

Delek Group CEO Idan Vales said Delek Drilling -- which also holds a stake in the Tamar field near Leviathan -- is expected to bring in revenue of more than $1 billion this year.

In all, Tamar and Leviathan are expected to sell some 19 billion cubic metres of gas in 2020. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; editing by Steven Scheer and Jason Neely)

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