Israel’s Well

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from Fortune Magazine,

The nation has it’s first major energy source-and an American company to thank for it.

“Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses,” Golda Meir, Israel’s fourth Prime Minister, told a banquet in 1973. “He took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil.” And it’s true: In a region flush with crude, Israel has always been an energy importer.

That is, until four years ago, when a Houston driller named Noble Energy (NBL), in partnership with the Israeli Delek Group, discovered the Tamar gas field. The vein has an estimated 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas underneath the Mediterranean Sea. In 2010, Noble found the Leviathan field, which holds an estimated 18 trillion cubic feet — the world’s largest deepwater natural-gas discovery that year.

On March 31, gas began flowing from Tamar. At $3 billion, the rig there is the largest privately funded infrastructure project in Israel’s history. Leviathan’s rig, which is slated to come online in 2016, is projected to cost at least $5 billion. Together, the two fields are believed to cover Israel’s domestic consumption for more than 100 years, plus turn a tidy profit in exports. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the discoveries “manna from heaven.”

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