Woodside Petroleum strikes $1.25 bn Leviathan LNG deal

Woodside Petroleum, Australia's second-largest gas producer, is buying a 30-per cent stake in Israel's Leviathan natural gas field in a $1.25-billion deal.

The Perth-based company will pay an initial $696 million to buy the stake in Israel's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) field from partners Noble Energy Mediterranean, Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration.

After the sale, Noble Energy's stake in the Leviathan field will decline to 30 per cent from 39.66 per cent, Delek and Avner will each own 15 per cent, down from 22.67 per cent, and Ratio's interest will fall to 10 per cent from 15 per cent.

Woodside will pay an additional $200 million once laws permitting LNG export are in force and a further $350 million when a final investment decision in relation to an LNG development.

Woodside said that it will be the operator of any LNG development of the deepwater Leviathan field.

''Being selected as the Leviathan joint venture's preferred partner in a competitive bidding process demonstrates the value of our LNG development capabilities,'' said Peter Coleman, CEO of  Woodside.