WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (UPI) —
The U.S. State Department said it welcomed the signing of the letter of intent for deliveries of Israeli natural gas to Jordanian partners.
Israel’s Delek Group, alongside U.S. energy company Noble Energy, signed the letter with the National Electric Power Co. of Jordan for natural gas deliveries from the Leviathan natural gas field off the Israeli cost.
The U.S. State Department said it facilitated talks between the parties in February that led to the signing of a similar deal for gas from Israel’s offshore gas field, Tamar. Acting Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein was on hand for a signing ceremony for Leviathan, hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells.
"This letter of intent [on Leviathan] marks the beginning of the second phase of the project, and represents an important step towards promoting peace and prosperity in the Middle East by encouraging collaboration to overcome energy challenges," the State Department said in a Thursday statement.
Leviathan, with an estimated 18 trillion cubic feet of gas, should go onstream in 2016. Tamar is estimated to hold as much as 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Simon Henderson, director of regional energy policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told news magazine Foreign Policy that Israeli gas was a good foreign policy asset.
"Israel is doing the United States a favor by using some of its gas for regional integration — economic integration, certainly, and perhaps political integration," he said.