Neighbouring Israel is poised to begin development of its massive Leviathan natural gas reservoir, according to reports in the Israeli media.

The project partners have green-lighted the drilling of the Leviathan-5 well.

“Drilling the Leviathan 5 well is a step forward in promoting the project, and is another reflection of Noble Energy’s commitment to meeting the time table of piping the gas to Israel before the end of 2019,” Bini Zomer, a manager at Noble Energy Israel, told the Jerusalem Post.

The development of the Leviathan 5 will be carried out by the Atwood Advantage drillship, which is currently drilling the Tamar 8 well.

The Atwood Advantage arrived in Israeli waters on October 21 after a stint in the Gulf of Mexico, where it also worked for Noble Energy.

Drilling the Leviathan 5 well is part of the A1 stage in the field’s overall development plan, submitted to the Israeli government at the end of February.

Under that plan, the partners will be establishing eight wells – two of which have already been drilled but must be completed for production.

In September the Leviathan shareholders signed a deal to supply Jordan’s National Electric Power Co over 15 years, in a deal valued at $10bn.

The Jerusalem Post said the Leviathan partners – Noble Energy, Delek Group subsidiaries Delek Drilling and Avner Oil, and Ratio Oil Exploration – continue to explore “their export options, looking potentially to the European market via Turkey and Cyprus.”

The Leviathan gas field is located roughly 130 kilometres west of Haifa. The initial exploration well, Leviathan 1, was drilled to a depth of 5,170 metres and the discovery was announced on December 30, 2010.