The Houston-based Noble Energy company, drilling for Israel’s Delek fuel company, announced that it has discovered a huge deposit of natural gas under the Mediterranean Sea near Haifa.

Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) said that the find was of “historic proportions,” and that it could change the face of Israel’s economy.

Eighty-seven billion cubic meters, or nearly 3.1 trillion cubic feet, of high-quality gas are estimated to be in three deposits in the Tamar Drilling site, which is named for Delek owner Yitzchak Teshuva’s granddaughter. Teshuva said that the find marks a “historic milestone and a great holiday for Israel,” and that he has no doubt it will “supply Israel’s energy needs for many decades to come.”

Stock prices in the Delek company jumped 38% following the announcement, and its daughter company, Delek Drilling, has jumped even higher.

The gas is located 90 kilometers west of Haifa, between Israel and Cyprus, but the rights to the Cypriot drilling sites are also owned by Teshuvah.  The depth of the water above the find is 1.7 kilometers, over a mile, and the gas is located another 4.9 kilometers deep in an area 140 meters wide.

In light of the positive results from the finds, a $20 million test drill will be carried out over the next three weeks.

Coal Plant: The End?
The discovery is likely to put an end to plans to build a coal energy plant in Ashkelon. MK Rabbi Michael Melchior, of the Meimad-Green movement, said after the announcement of the gas find, “Until now, proponents for the coal plant said that Israel could not afford to rely on natural gas from hostile countries. But now, we must bury the plans for the coal plant, which would be dangerous to the health of the residents in the area. Instead, a plant fueled by green, Israeli natural gas must be built there, with minimal health risks and great financial benefits to Israel’s economy.”