Israel’s second offshore licensing round has attracted bids from five oil and gas companies.
The country’s ministry of energy has this week shared that twelve blocks received bids out of 10 that had been offered. The international companies that took part were Cairn, Soco, and Energean, with the Israeli firm being Ratio and Israel Opportunity.
The Ministry of Energy had tendered 19 exploration licenses, each one up to 400 km² in size. The 19 licenses were grouped into five zones, each up to 1,600 km² in size.
According to the ministry, the decision to market the areas in zones of 3-4 licenses was taken to provide a higher degree of compatibility between the geological structures within the exploration areas which could contain oil and natural gas reservoirs.
“Holding larger exploration areas will enable the companies to undertake more extensive and thorough geological and geophysical surveys,” the ministry said.
Israel’s Minister of Energy, Yuval Steinitz said: “The proposals that we received will increase significantly the number of oil and gas exploration licenses in Israel’s Exclusive Economic Zone, from 8 to 20.”
“The arrival of additional European companies to Israel, combined with the fact that the Leviathan platform will soon be connected to the shore and the ongoing work on the development of the Karish field, will lead to the breakup of the monopoly and enhance competition in this sector. We are continuing to work towards transforming Israel into a regional energy power.”
Soco and Cairn will further expand the presence of the international oil companies in the Israeli waters. Currently, the U.S. Noble Energy operates the Tamar gas field and is working to bring the giant Leviathan gas field online by the end of 2019.
In addition to Noble, the Greek company Energean is developing the Karish and Tanin fields which it bought from Noble Energy in 2016.
The Israeli energy ministry said that exploration licenses would be granted for a period of 3 years.
During this period, the licensees are expected to carry out the committed work program, which centers on examining the area.
After this, the licensees can request another two-year term extension, contingent upon an updated work program being submitted to include drilling a well in at least one of the licenses it respective clusters. The third licensing round is due to be held in 2021.