Israel: bid round for 19 offshore natural gas exploration licenses
The Israeli Energy Ministry announced a new bid round for 19 offshore exploration blocks. This is the second round after the 2016 tender, whose outcome was announced last November. The disappointing results from the first bid round (only 6 blocks were awarded out of 20, with only two Companies participating) prompted the Ministry to change the tender terms and conditions.
The auction, which began last week, will be open until 28 March, when the pre-qualifying phase will end. Final bids must be submitted by 17 June and successful applicants will be announced on 15 July. There are 19 blocks being tendered off, each with a maximum surface area of 400 km², divvied up into 5 areas located in the Southern part of Israel’s exclusive economic zone. By introducing the possibility to submit bids for multiple blocks in the same zone, the Energy Ministry is trying to ensure a better correspondence between exploration areas and the geological structures that might hold gas deposits. Compared to the first auction, potential investors will be able to access detailed geological information, including 2D and 3D seismological surveys. Greater flexibility will also be granted: licenses can be extended up to 7 years, whereby successful applicants will be able to delay drilling activities for up to five years.
To leave the field open to a higher number of players, each Company will not be able to hold more than 8 licenses. Also, both Israel’s Delek Drilling and U.S.-based Noble Energy, who operate in the Tamar and Leviathan deposits, will be barred from participating in this bid round, since they account for more than 20% of all natural gas produced in Israel.