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JERUSALEM, Dec 12 (Reuters) - The Israeli partners in the Leviathan gas field said on Monday they approved a development plan for the field with a target production date for the end of 2019.
The plan, the group said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, includes a first stage development for production of about 12 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year at a cost of $3.5-4 billion.
The Israeli partners in Leviathan, one of the world's biggest offshore natural gas discoveries of the past decade, include Delek Drilling and Avner Oil, each with a 22.67 percent stake, and Ratio Oil with a 15 percent stake.
A final investment decision in the project will also require approval from the field's operator, Texas-based Noble Energy, which has a 39.66 percent share.
With estimated reserves of 621 bcm, the Leviathan partners have signed an export deal in Jordan and are exploring the possibility of selling gas in Egypt, Turkey and Europe.
The group last month signed commitment letters with HSBC and J.P. Morgan for up to $1.75 billion of financing for the A1 development stage of the project. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Steven Scheer)