PERTH, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Woodside Petroleum Ltd said it expects to make a final decision on an investment in Israel's Leviathan field in the first half of 2014, around the time that Israel is likely to finalise its tax policy for gas export projects.
Woodside has made an in-principle agreement to buy a 30 percent stake in the newly discovered gas prospect for $1.25 billion, part of a strategy to diversify outside of Australia that has seen it also eye projects in Myanmar and Ireland.
In October, Israel's top court upheld a government decision to allow about 40 percent of natural gas from the country's offshore reserves to be exported, dismissing arguments that more gas should be earmarked for domestic use.
Israel's finalisation of its tax policy for gas exports, which the company expects within the next 60 days, will add additional regulatory certainty for the project, Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said.
But he said the company is still working to make sure the commercial case for Leviathan is solid.
"First and foremost we are focused on ensuring that we have a commercial outcome that delivers value to us," Coleman told analysts and reporters in an investor briefing on Tuesday.
Woodside cut its investment expenditure for 2013 to $1.1 billion from $2.3 billion, mostly due to the deferral of spending on Leviathan. It put investment expenditure in 2014 at $2 billion to $2.4 billion.
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