Noble Energy has talked up the prospects of a floating LNG development of the massive Leviathan gas field, which Woodside Petroleum wants to farm-in to but hinted that production would not kick in until next decade.
Addressing investors in the US on Tuesday night, Noble's Eastern Mediterranean senior vice-president Keith Elliott said his company had been "working on floating LNG developments for a couple of years in earnest now, we've gone through a number of pre-FEED activities".
But Mr Elliott said the initial development of Leviathan, a field estimated to contain at least 19 trillion cubic feet of gas, would produce 800 million cubic feet of gas a day for Israel's domestic market and "pipeline export to nearby regional markets" such as Turkey by the second half of 2017.
A FLNG development would follow later.
In response to questions from one investor, Noble chairman Charles Davidson conceded that plans for a pipeline to Turkey presented a number of challenges.
"As we're all aware, in that part of the world it's not just as simple as building facilities and laying pipe," Mr Davidson said.
Woodside's interest in Leviathan is focused squarely on taking the lead in any LNG development. Although Woodside is likely to be excited at the prospect of providing its new-found FLNG expertise to the Leviathan joint venture, it remains unclear if Israeli regulators will want to miss out on the construction boom accompanying a land-based LNG processing plant.
The country's view on Leviathan's development options, coupled with Israel's fledgling domestic gas reservation policy, have led to a lengthy delay in Woodside agreeing to terms with Noble over a farm-in into the offshore field.
Woodside was eyeing a 30 per cent stake in Leviathan, whose other partners include Israeli groups Delek and Avner.
Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said last week he expected the Leviathan farm-in talks to be concluded by the middle of next year.