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The Leviathan natural gas field. Image courtesy of Nobel Energy.

A consortium led by Houston-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group submitted initial development plans Tuesday for the $6.5 billion Leviathan natural gas field project.

The offshore field is in the Mediterranean Sea about 80 miles off Israel’s coast in about 4,921 feet of water.

Leviathan has estimated reserves of 622 billion cubic meters of gas and is projected to produce 1.6 billion cubic meters per day.

Israel’s Energy Ministry confirmed that it received the plan but did not disclose further details, Reuters said.

During the first phase of production a floating production storage and offloading unit will transport gas from the field to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and other neighboring states.

Development plans for later phases were not included in the filing.

Production is expected to begin by 2018.

The Leviathan consortium is in talks to sell gas to UK-based BG Group, for use as its Egyptian LNG export plant, and Jordan’s state owned electricity company NEPCO.

Leviathan is the largest natural gas field in Israel.

Noble Energy is the operator of Leviathan with a 39.66 percent stake.

Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration, both subsidiaries of Israel-based Delek Group, each have a 22.67 percent working interest.

Israel-based Ratio Oil Exploration holds a 15 percent stake.

The Leviathan field is currently Noble’s largest discovery.