The Texas-based company Noble Energy announced it has received approval for developing the controversial Leviathan gas field,  off Israel’s Mediterranean coast, which will be a second source of gas supply to the Israeli government and will turn it into a gas exporter, Reuters reported.

The approved Plan Of Development (POD) contemplates a subsea system that connects production wells to a fixed platform located offshore with tie-in onshore in the northern part of Israel. Expected to become operational in 2019, the Leviathan gas field will operate with a production capacity of 1.2bcf/d, and will be expandable later on to 2.1bcf/d, according to Offshore Magazine.

Discovered in 2010, the Leviathan gas field is one of the biggest offshore discoveries with an estimate of 622bcm of natural gas reserves. However, the development of the project was previously held up due to the absence of a regulatory framework.

Furthermore, recently there was a debate about its reserves. Israel’s Energy Minister, Yuval Steinitz, said that the offshore field has 20% less gas than previously announced, The Times of Israel reported. However, he explained this could change after it receives more drilling data on one of the project’s wells, Leviathan 5. On his side, Former Environmental Protection Minister, Avi Gabbay, accused Steinitz of concealing information from the public. And eventually Israeli partners stressed: “The partnership clarifies that there has been no change in the resource estimate.”

Noble operates Leviathan with a 39.66% interest. Its partners are Delek Drilling (22.67%), Avner Oil Exploration (22.67%), and Ratio Oil Exploration (1992) with the remaining 15%.

In addition, earlier this week, Leviathan’s partners signed a deal to supply up to 473bcf to a new private power plant, IPM Be’er Tuvia, for 18 years. Noble estimated gross revenue from the deal at $2.5b.