On Monday the partners of Texas based Nobel Energy Inc. (NBL), who are developing the large Leviathan natural gas field in Israeli territorial waters, secured $1.75 billion in financing from J.P. Morgan and HSBC. Israel-based Delek Group’s subsidiaries, Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration, will receive the financing to pay for their share in the development of the Leviathan natural gas field. Noble Energy operates the Leviathan field with a 39.66% stake, while Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration own 22.67% stakes each, according to Energy Business Review.
Delek Group president and CEO Asaf Bartfeld said: “Closing of the financing agreement brings Delek Group and our Gas Partnerships closer to taking the final investment decision (FID) to develop the Leviathan field.”
The Leviathan field is scheduled to commence gas production in 2017. Part of securing financing for the project involves demonstrating the presence of contracts to persuade banks that the gas project is stable and worth funding. To do this, Israel penned a $10 billion agreement with the Natural Electric Power Co. of Jordan, Bloomberg reports.
Turkey Is a Potential Market
Israel and Turkey normalized diplomatic relations this summer after a six year dispute. The move opened the way for cooperation between the two countries to further develop Israel’s natural gas resources. Turkey is a net importer of natural gas, mainly from Russia, so the opportunity to diversify sources only enhances Turkey’s energy security. Israel is also looking for additional off-takers for its gas reserves since the main foreign customer for Leviathan gas is currently Jordan. (For More See: Is Turkey Facing an Energy Crisis?)
Nobel Still Needs to Find Funding
Bloomberg also reports that Nobel Energy “is yet to raise its portion of the financing” of the $4 billion project. The company will need to put in about $1.6 billion to meet its proportional share of funding. As of 3Q16, Nobel had $5.8 billion of total liquidity, including $1.819 billion in cash and the rest in available credit lines. This gives the company considerable flexibility and might not involve issuing new bonds. Instead the company could draw on its existing credit lines. Either way, its leverage is likely to increase and could put downward pressure on its credit rating.
Noble said in a recent investor presentation that they have total planned capital spending in 2017 of between $2 billion and $2.4 billion. Noble also says in this presentation that they are looking to sell (called ‘farm-down’) about 10% of their share in the Leviathan project to help ease development costs. So they are clearly aware of the risks and feeling the pressure.
Disclaimer: Gary Ashton is an oil and gas financial consultant who writes for Investopedia. The observations he makes are his own and are not intended as investment advice.