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Israel natural gas production seen boosting economy in 2013

BY SARAH TOTH STUB

JERUSALEM--Israel' s economic growth is seen being given a boost by the production of natural gas from next year, with gross domestic product expected to grow 3.5% in 2013, up from a previous estimate of 3%, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement late Sunday.

In 2014, the economy is expected to grow 3.9%, Mr. Steinitz said, speaking at a conference.

Israel' s large offshore Tamar gas field, which contains 9 TcF, is scheduled to begin production in 2013, and the companies controlling the field have already signed several supply contracts.

The economy is on track to grow at least 3% in 2012, after having expanded 4.6% in 2011, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics. The economy, which relies heavily on exports, grew less this year mainly due to lower global demand.

The government still hasn' t given a final decision on whether or not it will allow energy companies to export natural gas from Israel, and also hasn' t decided if it will limit the amount of natural gas large companies can purchase in order to guarantee that small companies will also be able to purchase gas.

In addition to the Tamar field, Israel' s offshore Leviathan field contains another 16 TcF, but this field isn' t scheduled to begin production for a few years. Houston-based Noble Energy owns stakes in both fields.

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

12/17/2012

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