A worker on the Israeli Tamar platform in front of the Mari-B platform off the coast of Israel. Photo: AFP/Ahikam Seri

Chevron this week became the first major energy company to enter the Israeli market, a watershed moment for a country long kept at bay by corporations fearful of losing business in the Gulf Arab states.

The US multinational on Monday announced it had bought out Texas-based Noble Energy in a US$5 billion deal with an overall value of $13 billion, including debt.

Noble discovered all of Israel’s major gas holdings in the last 20 years, most notably the Tamar and Leviathan fields in the eastern Mediterranean.

Israeli companies own 60% of the Leviathan field and 75% of the Tamar field, while Chevron will now own the remainder. Noble is also selling its assets in Africa and the United States, but the Israeli fields are the centerpiece of its portfolio.