HOUSTON, Dec. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NBL) today announced that the partners in the Leviathan Project have agreed in principle on a proposal to sell 30 percent working interest in the offshore Leviathan licenses to Woodside Energy Ltd. (ASX:WPL). All of the Leviathan partners, Noble Energy, Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration, are participating as sellers to Woodside. Noble Energy will convey a 9.66 percent working interest and will continue as upstream operator with a 30 percent working interest. The transaction is subject to the negotiations and execution of definitive agreements between the parties, as well as customary approvals, prior to closing.
Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy's Chairman and CEO, commented, "Noble Energy is extremely pleased to welcome such a substantial and knowledgeable strategic partner as Woodside. We are confident that their extensive experience in LNG projects will further unlock value in the world-class Leviathan resource. The entry of Woodside will bring additional international diversity to the Eastern Mediterranean area, thus highlighting the global importance of the Levant Basin."
Under the proposal, Noble Energy would receive cash payments totaling $464 million, which would be comprised of an initial cash payment of $287 million payable at closing followed by two contingent payments totaling $177 million. The first for $64 million would be paid once laws permitting LNG export from Israel are in force and the second for $113 million when a final investment decision is made in relation to an LNG development. In addition, Noble Energy would receive a share of Woodside's annual LNG revenue above certain price parameters, subject to a $322 million cap over the life of the project. The company would also be carried for up to $16 million in the drilling of a Mesozoic oil exploration well on the Leviathan licenses. Including the potential revenue sharing amounts and drilling carry, the implied price for Noble Energy's interest being sold is $802 million.
In order to better ensure timely completion of the Leviathan Phase 1 project, Noble Energy has offered limited temporary financing consideration to the existing partners in special situations where they have either not timely secured adequate funding, are at risk of default due to inability to pay their share of costs, or total project costs exceed a specified level that is above the project's current projected costs. Should the partners have to access the special financing, Noble Energy would be compensated through either interest payments, transfer of the partner's interest or receipt of a share of their production. These financing considerations do not obligate the Company until the signing of binding agreements.