Israel's Delek Drilling LP and Avner Oil Exploration LP, both units of conglomerate Delek Group Ltd., said May 17 they have completed a long-awaited merger and will begin trading next week as one company.

The new entity will keep the name Delek Drilling and will have a market value in Tel Aviv of about 16 billion shekels (US$4.4 billion).

It is through Delek Drilling and Avner Oil that Delek Group owns major stakes in the large Israeli offshore natural gas fields Tamar, which began production in 2013, and Leviathan, which is due to come online in late 2019.

Delek Drilling also said in a statement that exports from Tamar to Jordan's Arab Potash Co. and Jordan Bromine plants began in January.

CEO Yossi Abu said he expects production at Tamar this year, "to cross the 10 billion cubic meter mark."

The companies' combined net profit in the first quarter was $78.9 million, up 23% from a year earlier. (US$1 = 3.6028 shekels)