Israeli officials went to sea Thursday to mark the arrival of the platform jacket for Leviathan, a major step in the "revolution" the massive gas reservoir is expected to generate.
"The Leviathan gas field is the greatest natural treasure that has been discovered in Israel and the arrival of the platform foundation symbolises our entry into the final stage of its development," said Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, quoted by a government state
The 98-metre (322 foot) high structure is designed to support the giant offshore oil platform's deck and "topsides" -- heavy equipment and facilities kept above the water line.
The jacket was built in Texas and arrived over the weekend on a huge barge after a 28-day journey across the Atlantic, according to US firm Noble Energy and its Israeli partner Delek, the Leviathan consortium's lead partners.
The government statement quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking on board a ship near the platform.
"Completion of the Leviathan gas platform and the pumping of gas from this field later in the year is a critical component of the strategic, energy, economic and diplomatic strength of the State of Israel," he said.
"A gas pipeline will run from here and will link us to the gas economy of Europe. It will reach our Arab neighbours."
Leviathan will also supply "clean energy" to Israel that will replace coal and boost the state's coffers with "billions of shekels," Netanyahu said.
"This is a great revolution," he said.
Steinitz noted agreements are in place with Egypt and Jordan to sell surplus gas.
Leviathan was discovered in 2010 and is located some 125 kilometres (80 miles) west of the Israeli port city of Haifa. It is estimated to hold 18.9 trillion cubic feet (535 billion cubic metres) of natural gas, along with 34.1 million barrels of condensate.
The platform jacket will be fastened to the sea bed, and the topsides are expected to arrive in the coming months, according to a statement by Leviathan.
Once in place, the platform will receive the gas from the reservoir through two underwater pipelines, process it and then send it via another pipeline to the Israeli gas transmission system, the statement said.