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Story by Globes Israel

Edison S.p.A. and other leading energy companies have expressed interest in acquiring the Karish and Tanin gas fields.

Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) energy exploration and production units Delek Drilling Limited Partnership (TASE: DEDR.L) and Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L) will acquire the stake of Noble Energy Inc.(NYSE: NBL) in the Karish and Tanin natural gas reservoirs. The acquisition for $67 million is in order to meet the 14-month timetable for selling the reservoirs to a third party, as stipulated in the natural gas plan.When the deal is completed, in addition to their holdings in the gas fields, Delek Drilling and Avner will also have the exclusive right to sell Noble Energy’s rights. This will expedite the negotiations with international companies interested in buying the reservoirs.The leading candidate for buying the reservoirs is Italian company Edison S.p.A. Other US and European energy companies have also expressed interest in buying them, including US companies Hess and EOG, with which Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz met last month as part of a series of meetings he held in the US.

Another potential candidate for buying the two reservoirs is Italian company Eni, which discovered the huge Zohr reservoir in Egypt. At a meeting between Steinitz and Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi last month, Steinitz proposed that Eni invest in the reservoirs and consider conducting additional oil and gas exploration in Israel’s economic waters.

The Tanin and Karish reservoirs jointly contain a 60-80 BCM of gas, and NIS 700 million has been invested in them to date.

In order to approve the gas plan and assume the authority of the Antitrust Authority director general, in his role as Minister of the Economy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is obligated to consult the Knesset Economics Committee. In the coming weeks, Economics Committee chairman Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) will hold a series of discussions, to which the officials and regulators involved in the matter will be summoned. Political sources expressed concern that the Economics Committee would try to buy time, and that approval of the gas plan would take longer than expected as a result.

Another obstacle to approval of the plan is petitions to the High Court of Justice filed by various non-profit and social organizations. One such petition was filed this week by the Israeli Society for Sustainable Economics seeking to cancel the stability clause in the gas agreement, in which the government undertakes to refrain from intervening in the gas sector for 10 years.