Israel’s first offshore licence round, which began in November, was thrown into disarray when the energy minister announced February 9 that it would extend to next year.
Speaking at a roadshow in Tel Aviv, Yuval Steinitz said that dozens of companies had showed interest in it and the postponement was to enable them to prepare their bids.
According to the original timetable, bids were to be submitted by April 21, and that deadline was now been extended to July. The final results were supposed to be published by July; however, in the new timetable, there is no mention of the results announcement. The only reference to the results is to bonds that back each bid and are valid until March 2018.
According to a study, which was commissioned by the energy ministry and published with the licensing round papers, there are 2,200 bn m³ of natural gas waiting to be discovered offshore Israel. The licensing round is for 24 blocks each of 400 km².
Israel’s blocks on offer
While the latest Cypriot licensing round attracted successful bids from majors like ExxonMobil, Total and Statoil, and Egypt enjoys co-operation with Eni, Rosneft, BP and others, Israel has only two main producers: Noble Energy and Delek Group.
Noble Energy and Delek are not allowed to take part in the current licensing round because of their monopolistic status and the majors and smaller E&P companies still prefer doing business in other parts of the Middle East. Delek therefore is looking elsewhere for expansion and earlier this month bid for Ithaca, a Canadian company with UK North Sea focus.