Woodside's Leviathan entry delayed

Energy giant baulks at draft rules for taxing exports, delaying $2.85bn deal.

The long-awaited entry of Woodside Petroleum into the mammoth Leviathan offshore gas project in Israel appears to have been delayed once again.

The oil exploration company first announced a conditional purchase of 30% of the mammoth project in December 2012 before agreeing a revised Memorandum of Understanding last month, which saw the deal adjusted to a 25% stake for about $2.85 billion.

Upon announcing the revised deal, Woodside reported a deadline of March 27 for it to be finalised.

A signing ceremony in Jerusalem was slated to take place at 6.30am (AEDT) but an hour later has still not taken place, with reports in the Israeli media suggesting a last-minute reservations on the part of Woodside are to blame.

According to Israeli business news service Globes, a spokesperson for Delek Drilling, Elad Cohen said there were certain tax issues that still needed to be worked out between the respective parties.

Woodside is said to be weighing an upsetting draft ruling on taxing gas exports from Israel, Globes reports.

It is not clear whether the deal is now in question, though the latest MoU had been conditional on the taxation issue being sorted to Woodside's satisfaction.