The Israeli government has approved limits on the export of natural gas reserves, keeping a larger amount for local consumption than originally expected.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would export 40 percent of Israel's natural gas. Last year, an advisory panel had proposed exporting just over half of the country's gas, sparking protests by Israelis who said the country should keep most of its reserves to reduce energy prices at home.

Netanyahu said the export policy, approved by his Cabinet Sunday, strikes a balance between domestic needs and the concerns of private exploration companies pumping the gas.

The consortium that is drilling for gas declined comment.

Israel began pumping gas this year and is expected to begin exporting when a second field goes online in 2016.