Israel: Energy minister extends offshore license near Lebanese waters

Israel’s Delek and U.S. Noble Energy have obtained an extension to the Alon D license in the Mediterranean Sea, offshore Israel.

The exploration license covers 400 square kilometers in the northern waters of Israel’s EEZ, a few kilometers east of the Karish gas field, recently bought by Energean.

However, the northern end of the license borders with the EEZ of Lebanon, and because of this proximity and the political tensions between the two countries, no extensive activities have been conducted there, such as comprehensive and current seismic and environmental surveys.

The license was about to expire in March 2016 as the country’s Commissioner at the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water wouldn’t extend it.

However, the partners then appealed to the energy minister Yuval Steinitz, who, according to Delek, on August 21, 2017 informed the partners that the license would continue to be valid for 32 months subject to certain conditions.

According to Delek, under the agreement, the partners in the license must clarify to the Commissioner, in writing and without delay, that they acknowledge that at the moment there are still circumstances in the area preventing drilling, which are applicable until further notice, „and that in the future there is no intention to recognize additional future obstacles in the area as grounds that will oblige further freezing of the License.“

The partners also must carry out an environmental survey within 18 months, in order to adapt the terms of the ongoing License to the standards acceptable in 2017.

Furthermore, the partners will ratify again their commitment to drilling, within a reasonable time in the circumstances, from the moment that the go ahead is given to carry out drilling.

According to Globes Newspaper, explaining his decision, Steinitz acknowledged the fact the companies had been unable to carry out drilling in the block over the diplomatic and security issues related to the dispute over Israel’s economic waters with Lebanon.