Israeli regulator approves Chevron takeover of Noble's gas fields

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Chevron Corp is seen in its booth at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s Petroleum Council gave its approval on Monday for Chevron Corp to take over Noble Energy’s stakes in Israeli natural gas fields, which are a key component in Chevron’s $5 billion acquisition.

Chevron agreed in July to buy the Texas-based oil and gas producer, which operates two large offshore gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean. Upon completion, Chevron will be the first major energy group to enter the Israeli market.

Israeli officials welcomed the announcement, though some environmental groups opposed handing over the country’s natural resources to Chevron and brought their concerns to Israel’s parliament.

The Petroleum Council, which advises on exploration and production licenses, gave its blessing, paving the way for Chevron to become a dominant player in Israel, according to a statement from the Energy Ministry.

“When an American company of such a big size and with tremendous resources joins the Israeli market, the possibilities to promote the energy sector in Israel become limitless,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Tova Cohen