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Israel To Offer Up Tantalizing Offshore Gas Exploration Blocks

The Israeli Energy Ministry is planning to offer up new offshore gas exploration licenses later this year, saying that the country’s undiscovered resources could make the supergiant Leviathan field pale by comparison.

The Ministry now estimates that there are around 2,200 billion cubic meters of undiscovered gas in its waters—“about double what we have discovered to date and four gas fields like Leviathan”, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told a recent conference.

The statement—along with the news that new offshore exploration blocks will go up for auction in the fall—comes only a few weeks after the government approved new gas legislation that allows the development of the Leviathan field to begin.

The new offshore block offering will be the first time in four years that Israel allows new exploration for oil and gas in its waters.

In terms of getting gas to the international market, the Energy Minister noted that the country was considering the construction of a new pipeline to Cyprus and onward to Greece, and is considering exports through pipelines to Jordan, Egypt and Turkey.

The Minister reiterated the position that Israel can eventually supply natural gas to Europe, which would significantly increase the country’s geopolitical standing.

"If this can be realized it will position Israel well from the geopolitical and geostrategic point of view. Israel can become a significant player,” Israeli media quoted Steinitz as saying.

The Minister also noted that developing more of Israel’s natural gas bounty could save the country from recession.

Related: Bribery, Corruption And Changing Contracts: Oil Investment In Iran

Earlier this month, the Energy Ministry slightly downplayed the potential of Leviathan, saying that it may be 20 percent smaller than its developers—U.S.-based Noble Energy and Israeli partner Delek—have previously estimated. But new drilling data, the Ministry said, could change that.

When it approved the development plan for Leviathan, the Ministry put estimated reserves at 17.6 trillion cubic feet of gas. Noble and Delek have previously estimated 21.9 trillion cubic feet, and they continue to stand by that estimate.

By James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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