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ExxonMobil in Talks to Construct Floating LNG Ship in Israel

Zacks Equity Research
Massively lower contributions from downstream and chemical businesses dampen ExxonMobil's (XOM) Q1 results.
Massively lower contributions from downstream and chemical businesses dampen ExxonMobil's (XOM) Q1 results.

Per Bloomberg, Exxon Mobil Corporation XOM is in talks with firms that include Noble Energy NBL and Delek Drilling LP to build a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship. The firms are currently developing the Leviathan reservoir in Israel.

The platform will expand the export reach of Israel’s largest natural gas field — a deep sea discovery of about 600 billion cubic meters. The project will enable the Leviathan partners to export to countries that are not accessible through pipelines and avoid construction of expensive infrastructure to connect to LNG facilities in Egypt.

The company did not disclose plans in Israel. These discussions, which are in early stages, might not lead to the formation of any partnership.  Recently, it made a huge gas discovery in close proximity, off the coast of Cyprus.

In the past decade, significant gas discoveries have been made in the Eastern Mediterranean region. However, there is no availability of export infrastructure. Though the Leviathan partners have inked deals to meet growing demand in Egypt, Jordan and Israel, no solution has been established to export yields to Europe or East Asia.

The next phase of the reservoir’s development has been earmarked by the partners involved in the Leviathan project for export deal. The companies are examining means to reach markets outside the region. The biggest shareholder in the Leviathan field — Delek Drilling LP — is looking into numerous options that include acquisition of a stake in one of Egypt’s LNG sites.

These discussions with ExxonMobil are the latest indication that an unofficial energy boycott on Israel, imposed by leading Arab countries, is vanishing. Till date, energy majors that partner with major Arab firms have been hostile toward Israel for fear of threatening ties with states that control some of the world’s biggest energy reserves.

The project in Israel will reflect on ExxonMobil’s aspiration to expand in the East Mediterranean area, which includes Egyptian, Israeli, Lebanese and Cypriot waters. In February 2019, the company gained foothold in the region, when it found an offshore reservoir in Cypriot waters that’s about one-third the size of Leviathan.

Per sources, ExxonMobil is known to have held discussions with Israel’s Energy Minister with respect to participation in the forthcoming tender for new offshore drilling blocs.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Currently, ExxonMobil carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked players in the energy space are Antero Resources Corporation AR and CrossAmerica Partners L.P. CAPL, each  sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Antero Resources is an independent explorer, primarily engaged in the acquisition and development of natural gas, natural gas liquids as well as oil resources in the Appalachian Basin. The company’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in two of the last four quarters.

CrossAmerica Partners is involved in the wholesale distribution of motor fuels, comprising gasoline and diesel fuel. The partnership delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 452.2% in the last four quarters.

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