Israeli antitrust czar challenging ownership of natural gas deposits amid monopoly concerns

Israel's antitrust authority is challenging the ownership structure of the country's natural gas resources, a decision that could rattle an increasingly important industry.

A U.S.-Israeli conglomerate has been developing most of Israel's offshore natural gas deposits. It sells gas to the Israeli market and has agreed to sell to neighboring countries as well.

In an earlier understanding, the conglomerate agreed to sell two smaller gas fields to avoid a monopoly. But the antitrust authority said Tuesday it was scrapping that deal, seeing it as insufficient.

The authority says it is considering a new agreement, which could strip the conglomerate of its larger, more lucrative fields.

The conglomerate says it has invested billions of dollars developing the fields, but critics say the government has allowed it to profit excessively.