Israel’s Ratio Sees $250 Million Revenue From Leviathan in 2020

(Bloomberg) -- Ratio Oil Exploration 1992 LP, one of the companies developing Israel’s largest natural gas field, expects the long-awaited project to give it about $250 million of revenue next year.

The energy explorer, which hasn’t had any sales since at least 1998, is also planning to start paying dividends to shareholders after refinancing debt, Chief Executive Officer Yigal Landau said in an interview in his Tel Aviv office on Sunday.

Israel’s Ratio Sees $250 Million Revenue From Leviathan in 2020

A decade after finding the large Leviathan field in Israeli waters, and following years of delays, Ratio, Noble Energy Inc. and Delek Drilling LP will start gas sales to Egypt and Jordan next month. They are now considering ways to export the remaining 80% of their potential production, including building a floating liquefied natural gas vessel that could be used for sale to distant markets.

The Leviathan partners anticipate signing further export contracts next year, when they will also likely decide on the floating vessel, Landau said. Building the LNG ship will take three years, he said, declining to say how much it would cost.

Gas exports have become the key focus for energy explorers operating in Israeli waters, after the country’s own relatively small demand has been met. Large reservoirs have been discovered in Israel and Cyprus, and regional governments have pushed for deals to markets including southern Europe and Egypt, but progress has been held back by volatile politics.

“We want to export as much gas as possible,” Landau said.

Ratio, which holds a 15% stake in Leviathan, is in talks with banks to convert about $600 million of loans used to develop the project into longer term debt at lower interest rates, Landau said. The company would pay dividends once that is done, he said, declining to elaborate on when the payouts may start.

“We have a clear interest to see that cash,” he said, referring to the dividend.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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