Noble Energy, an oil and gas exploration and production company, has halted drilling operations at the Leviathan-1 well in the Levant Basin, offshore Israel, after finding natural gas.

Drilling at well was planned to continue to a depth of about 21,400ft, but was stopped at 21,000ft upon encountering higher pressure, said Noble Energy.

Susan M Cunningham, Noble Energy senior vice president of Exploration and Business Innovation, said the company will integrate the data from the Leviathan well into its model to design a drilling plan to test the deep oil concept.

"Part of the plan will be to secure a rig with the capabilities necessary to reach the target objective," said Cunningham.

"Based on the information received to date, we continue to believe there is potential for significant oil resources in this prospect and the basin."

Noble Energy, as operator of the Leviathan prospect, holds a 39.66% interest in the Rachel and Amit licenses offshore of Israel.

Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration each hold a 22.67% interest, while Ratio Oil Exploration holds the remaining 15% stake.