Israel Extends Licence Round
Israel's energy ministry has pushed back a month the deadline for submissions of bids for the second offshore licensing round, it said June 6. Owing to requests for a delay from "unnamed companies", the deadline is now July 15 and the results are expected to be announced by August 12.
The first licensing round offshore Israel ended in failure last year when there were only two bids, one from a consortium of Indian energy companies that has since vanished. The second one was submitted by Energean, the former Greek minnow that is busy developing the Karish and Tanin gas fields, as well as drilling further exploration wells in that area.
"The extension has been made at the request of participating companies who needed more time to review the significant amount of data made available and to complete pre-bid preparations," the petroleum commissioner said in a press release. "We are pleased with the interest shown by participating companies and wish to provide them with more time to complete their assessments."
The postponement came as a surprise, since just two days ago, energy minister Yuval Steinitz told an energy conference in Israel that the round would be completed on schedule. The current licensing round was launched in November. Steinitz had devoted quite a lot of his time and energy to the tender, trying to attract at least one major. A few months ago, during a visit to CERAWeek in Houston he met ExxonMobil top executives. Later it was reported that ExxonMobil bought the tender documents. The US major has had success elsewhere in the eastern Mediterranean, offshore Cyprus. However it would still be a surprise if any of the majors submitted a bid.