Hoping that better market conditions and bidding terms will draw more interest than its last disappointing efforts did, Israel is planning a second auction of energy-exploration licenses over the next few weeks, the Energy Ministry said Sunday.
The government will offer to oil and gas companies 19 offshore blocks in its economic waters offshore its Mediterranean coast, where there have been seven natural gas discoveries since 2004.
“The aim is to continue the momentum of the Israeli gas sector’s development, increase competition by bringing in new international energy companies and to increase the energy security of the State of Israel,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said.
He pointed to plans to develop an undersea gas pipeline that would run from Israel through Cyprus and on to Greece and Italy. If the pipeline is indeed built it would enable Israel to export energy to Europe and make the blocs being auctioned more attractive to bidders who see little potential in the tiny Israeli market.
The previous auction, last year, ended in just two bids – one from the Greek company Energean and another from an Indian consortium comprising ONGC Videsh, Bharat PetroResources, Indian Oil Corporation and Oil India. The latter group hasn’t yet acted on its license.