With the discovery of huge reserves of natural gas off Israel’s shores, energy developers have long cast an eye towards exploring Israel’s territorial waters – and after four and a half years in which no new explorations were permitted, they will now have the opportunity to bid on a chance to explore. Energy and Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz announced the opening of a tender for 24 licenses to explore the waters off Israel’s coast for gas, oil or anything else the explorers can find.
The tender, which closes April 21, 2017, grants winners the rights to explore offshore parcels of 400 square kilometers in 24 different areas within Israel’s declared territorial waters. The exploration will take place at least 7 kilometers offshore and within the 200-kilometer territorial limit. Companies are invited to present a plan on how they would explore in the specific areas they are interested in. A decision on the winners will be made based on their plans, Steinitz said, with specific criteria on the size of the companies, costs of registration, and other technical information presented by Steinitz.
“Israel has learned from the rest of the world on how to conduct these tenders,” said Ministry Director General Shaul Meridor. “We want to be attractive to exploration companies.” Recent studies indicate that the areas to be explored could hold over 6 billion barrels of oil, and over 2,000 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
Steinitz said that he welcomed any bidder who was interested in working with Israel to advance their mutual causes. “Exploration for gas and oil is a great investment for Israel and its future, and will help increase our energy infrastructure,” he said. “I realize that this tender is likely to raise the hackles of certain groups, who would rather see the resources remain under the sea. To protest is their democratic right; to explore and open up these natural treasures is our national obligation,” he added.