Feb 10, 2017, 3:26 PM CST
Israel has extended the original deadlines for each step of its first offshore oil and gas bid round launched last November, Energy Minister Yuval Steiniz said on Thursday.
Under the original plan for re-opening Israel’s offshore to new oil and gas exploration, the country announced its first bid round for development of resources in its territorial waters. At the time, minister Steiniz quoted independent research as having estimated that there are additional resources in a range of 6.6 billion barrels of oil and 2,137 BCM of natural gas yet to be found offshore Israel. The ministry is auctioning off 24 exploration blocks of up to 400 square kilometers (154.4 square miles) each, and will award 3-year licenses, extendable by another 3 years under certain conditions. In order to keep a healthy competition, companies with significant holdings in active offshore leases in the area are not allowed to bid. That means that Israel’s Delek and U.S.-based Noble Energy – which are developing the giant Leviathan natural gas field – are not bidding.
The original timetable had stipulated that the deadline for submission of proposals would be April 21, 2017, with winners of the new blocks expected to be announced in July 2017.
However, under the revised timetable, the closing date for bid submission is July 10, 2017, and bid bonds are valid until March 1, 2018, which may mean that the awarding of the licenses may take place next year.
Dozens of companies have expressed interest in the bidding process, thus the extension to allow for more time to prepare for bids, Natural Gas World quoted Steiniz as saying at a roadshow in Tel Aviv.
In the eastern Mediterranean, other countries are also advancing bid rounds and licensing awards. Cyprus has recently awarded three offshore blocks — one to Italy’s Eni, one to an Eni/Total partnership, and the other to ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum – while Lebanon opened last month five offshore blocks up for bidding, re-launching the first licensing round after three years of political impasse.
Tsvetana Paraskova is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.