The operator of Australia’s Pluto liquefied natural gas project, Woodside Petroleum, will buy a 30 percent share in Israel’s Leviathan natural gas field for $2.5 billion, becoming a strategic partner in the drilling.

Woodside, Australia’s second largest oil and gas producer, will make a first payment of $696 million.

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Leviathan is expected to start producing usable gas in 2016.  The value of the field is estimated at $8.3 billion.

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Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.