Israel's National Infrastructure Ministry has granted the Yam Thetis consortium a 30-year license for its natural gas production platform off Israel's southern Mediterranean coast, the ministry said. Natural Gas has been discovered at the Mary and Noa fields in the 60,000-acre tract off the coast of Ashkelon. The ministry said the license was the final stage of the process and enabled the consortium to build and operate production facilities. The Yam Thetis consortium comprises of Samedan, Delek Exploration and Avner Exploration. It has an 11-year agreement to sell 1.8 billion cubic meters per year to Israel Electric Corp. The IEC hopes to begin using natural gas at its coastal power plants by the end of 2003 or early 2004. The Mary and Noa fields have estimated combined natural gas reserves of 42 billion cubic meters.