Shell's BG takeover threatens Leviathan-Egyptian deal

Published 29.01.2016 00:10 Modified 29.01.2016 10:42
An aerial view taken last year shows the Tamar Israeli gasdrilling platform in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel.
An aerial view taken last year shows the Tamar Israeli gasdrilling platform in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel.

Shell's acquisition of British Gas (BG) could endanger natural gas sales in the consortium of the Leviathan Natural Gas Area from Israel to Egypt, the Israel-based newspaper Globes reported on Wednesday. "Shell's shareholders have approved the purchasing of BG, which is likely to bring an end to the Leviathan partner's hopes of selling gas to Egypt," the paper wrote. The negotiations between Leviathan partners and BG were regarding $30 billion in natural gas trade.

The shareholders of Shell reached an agreement regarding the $70 billion takeover of the BG Group, with the acquisition reaching completion in a huge deal signed by shareholders from both companies. On Jan. 27, 83 percent of Shell shareholders voted to accept Shell's takeover of the BG Group.

The daily Globes stressed that Shell currently operates in Qatar and may possibly enter the Iranian market in the near future, making all negotiations on the transfer of Israeli gas to the BG Group's liquefaction plants in Egypt futile - even though the BG and Leviathan consortium previously signed a non-binding letter of intent. "Shell operates in Qatar and may possibly operate in Iran soon, meaning the oil giant is likely to think twice before signing such a major contract for Israeli natural gas," according to the Israeli daily. While Shell has not included Israel or Egypt on its list of countries that take priority, the company plans to fire tens of thousands of employees and sell $30 billion worth of assets.

The huge discovery of natural gas last August off the coast of Egypt was projected to cover all the needs of the Egyptian domestic market and, after the announcement, Israel began to consider the export of its natural gas - along with liquefaction plants located on Egypt's coastline. Shell's takeover of the BG Group, which owns a majority of liquefaction plants, and the impending possibility that Shell could show disinterest in Israeli gas weakens the liquefaction option.

The Leviathan consortium signed a non-binding letter of intent in June 2014 with the BG Group to supply 105 billion cubic meters of natural gas to BG's liquefaction plant in Egypt. The deal, predicted to be in effect for 15 years, was announced to be worth $30 billion. But, the deal was held up due to Israel's antitrust prevarication and, since then, energy prices have plummeted. Although the Leviathan partners tried to sign a permanent deal with the BG Group due to the precarious status of the non-binding deal a few months earlier, it was reported that the negotiations remain inconclusive. Previously, Israeli officials mentioned that the transferring of Israeli gas to Europe via Turkey was an option. Contrarily, Turkish officials have said diplomatic relations between the two countries must be normalized and that Israel must conduct the three prior conditions set forth by Turkey.

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