Israeli regulators recommended Monday that Noble Energy and Delek Group break up their combined 85 percent stake in the giant offshore Leviathan gas field.

Antitrust regulators expressed concern that the two companies would have excessive control over the nation’s largest gas field, Reuters said.

Leviathan holds an estimated 22 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Regulators will hold meetings with Houston-based Noble and Delek to talk about the proposed stake break up before making a final decision.

The two companies have not commented on the recommendation.

“The entry of Delek and Noble into Leviathan created a situation in which these groups control all of the gas reserves on the State of Israel’s coast,” Israeli regulators said.

The decision came shortly after antitrust commissioner David Gilo told the two companies he was reconsidering a previous deal that would have let the companies sell down stakes in smaller Israeli gas fields to alleviate antitrust issues.

Delek had been in talks to sell stakes in the adjoining Tanin and Karish fields that hold combined estimated gas reserves of 3 trillion cubic feet.

Production at Leviathan is projected to start by 2018 with initial investment expected to top $6.5 billion.

Noble and Delek are currently in talks to supply UK-based BG Group and Jordan’s national electricity company with gas produced from the field.

The two companies have also secured a $1.2 billion 20 year purchase agreement from the Palestinian Authority.

Noble owns a 39.66 percent stake in Leviathan.

Two Delek Group units, Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration, hold a combined 45.34 percent interest in the field.

Israel-based Ratio Oil Exploration owns a 15 percent interest.


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