Delek Boosts Interest in Leviathan

Delek Group Ltd. (DLEKG.TV) has increased its interest in Israel's largest natural gas reserve, as another one of its subsidiaries has acquired a stake in a company controlling the gas reserve.

Excellence Investments Ltd. (EXCE.TV), a subsidiary of Delek, said Monday that it has bought a 5.05% stake for 10 million shekels ($2.72 million) in Ratio Oil Exploration LP (RATI.L.TV), which holds 15% of the offshore Leviathan gas reserve, estimated to hold up to 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Delek subsidiaries Avner Oil and Gas LP (AVNRL.TV) and Delek Drilling LP (DEDR.L.TV) each own a 22.67% stake in Leviathan, and Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. (NBL) holds a 39.66% stake.

Leviathan isn't expected to begin production until at least 2014.

Interest in Leviathan and Tamar, another Israeli offshore natural gas reserve, has increased in the last week as political upheaval continues in Egypt, which currently provides Israel with about 40% of its natural gas needs. The pipeline bringing gas from Egypt remains closed, after Egyptian officials shut it down Saturday following an explosion at one of its metering stations.

The Israeli government has reiterated the need for Israel to lessen its dependence on Egyptian natural gas and said it aims to have Tamar producing natural gas by 2013.

Monday, shares of Avner closed flat at ILS2.48; shares of Delek Drilling closed up ILS0.01, or 0.07% higher, at ILS13.61; Delek Group shares closed ILS7.00, or 0.80% higher, at ILS880.00; shares of Ratio closed down ILS0.13, or 0.15%, at ILS0.67; and shares of Excellence closed flat at ILS59.86, in a higher Tel Aviv market.

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.