Leviathan Start on Hold Awaiting Permit from Environment Ministry

The Israeli Tamar gas processing rig 18 miles off the Israeli coast of Ashkelon. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The energy company was impatient, the local population was apprehensive, and the government was adamant: The Leviathan natural gas startup scheduled for Tuesday was postponed until all the necessary permits were approved.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection said that Noble Energy could not activate its offshore rig until all precautions have been taken and the plan approved for sampling and monitoring during the flushing and checking the benzene that will be emitted.

Once the ministry is satisfied, Noble must then give the public two days advance notice, so that local residents who want to evacuate or stay indoors while the process goes on will be able to do so.

Noble Energy said, “The Leviathan gas has waited a long time to get out of the ground and it will happen quickly. We were very surprised and we regret hearing the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s decision.

“Noble Energy has been scrupulous in strictly complying with all the various permits and approvals that have been issued to it and has received the approvals of the different courts.

“The Ministry of Environmental Protection has requested implementation of an additional validation of the analysis equipment above and beyond the existing validation and Noble is working to convey the data to the Ministry. The Leviathan partners are excited, ready and on alert ahead of natural gas production and transforming Israel into an energy power,” the company said in a statement.