Noble Energy has discovered natural gas at the Leviathan exploration prospect offshore Israel.

The well spud in the Rachel licence encountered a minimum of 220ft of net natural gas pay in several subsalt Miocene intervals.

Apparent reservoir quality is very good and the intervals discovered are geologically similar to those intersected at Tamar, according to the company.

Leviathan-1, which is located in 5,400ft of water, lies 80 miles offshore Haifa and 29 miles (47km) south-west of the Tamar discovery.

The results from the well confirm the pre-drill estimated resource range, with a gross mean for Leviathan of 16 trillion cubic feet.

The Leviathan field covers 125 square miles and will require two or more appraisal wells to further define total gas resources.

Leviathan-1 will be drilled to a planned total depth of 23,600ft to evaluate two additional intervals. The current well depth is 16,960ft.

Noble Energy president and COO David Stover said that the discovery has the potential to position Israel as a natural gas-exporting nation.