Israel’s vast reserves of natural gas off its Mediterranean coast were discovered in 2009.
Udi Adiri, the ministry’s director general stated that Israel will publish details of the tender by the end of this month, and choose the winning companies after half a year later.
Last year’s auction elicited bids from only two groups of companies, and the ministry has made it clear that it expects more to compete this time as conditions have improved quite a bit.
In 2017, the energy market was weaker and companies in general were investing less. There was also concern over where to sell any newfound gas, due to the small size of Israel’s market.
“There is strong interest in this tender, certainly compared to the previous round,” Adiri stated.
The 19 blocks have been divided up into four sectors that benefit from more comprehensive geological studies than last time, he stated. Israel has also signed major export deals with Jordan and Egypt over the last two years, opening new markets to companies looking to sell gas from Israel.
Adiri further emphasised the improvements in the global energy market, which had companies more willing to make investments.
If terms are met, the exploration licenses will have a limit of three years, with options to extend up to four more.
There have been seven natural gas discoveries in Israeli waters, though not all have been developed. The Tamar field has been producing gas since 2013 and the huge Leviathan project, as well as two smaller fields, are expected to come online in the next few years.
Last year Israel received bids from Energean and a consortium of Indian firms including ONGC Videsh Bharat PetroResources ,Indian Oil Corp and Oil India.