Noble Energy is to start drilling the Leviathan natural gas field in October.

The company, which owns a 40% interest in the Mediterranean prospect, said there is a 17% probability of finding three billion barrels of oil at a depth of 5,800m and an 8% probability of finding a further 1.2 billion barrels of oil at a depth of 7,200m.

The company said the well has gross unrisked mean resources of 453 billion cubic metres and a 50% geologic chance of success.

Drilling will be carried out for five months at the field, which lies about 135km west of the northern Israeli port city of Haifa and will be the deepest in Israeli waters.

The consortium that owns the Leviathan prospect also includes Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration each with a 22.7% interest and Ratio Oil Exploration with a 15% stake.