Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz is out to persuade big energy explorers put off by years of regulatory turmoil to search for natural gas off his country’s shores.
At a road show in London this week, Steinitz sat down with executives from large and mid-sized energy companies to make his case that prospects for finding big reserves are good.
“According to geological and seismological surveys, it is very probable that most of the natural gas is yet to be found,” Steinitz said. “We hope to see at least two or three large companies submitting bids.”
It is estimated that Israel’s waters hold 2,200 billion cubic meters of undiscovered gas, about 2 1/2 times the amount contained in known fields.
Israel is actively seeking energy investors now that the last of the regulatory, legal and political challenges that held up gas development for years was swept away in mid-May. Two major discoveries in the past decade have put Israel on course to become a gas exporter, but so far only one mid-sized international energy company — Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. — has taken an active role. Earlier this month, Greece’s Energean Oil & Gas SA agreed to buy two small offshore fields.
Israel hopes to interest companies to explore in 24 blocks accounting for 40 percent of the nation’s economic waters, Steinitz said. Licenses could be issued as soon as November, and would be the first in four years because exploration stalled while Israel struggled to regulate its nascent energy industry.