Under the slogan “Open Israeli Waters for Exploration”, Israel’s energy ministry will launch an exploration licensing round on November 15 — the first ever competitive offshore round in Israel’s history. But it won’t go through without difficulties.
According to the timetable published on www.energy-sea.gov.il, a website dedicated to the licensing round, another roadshow will take place in Houston, Texas on November 30 — the third, following ones in London and Singapore last month — then an online Q&A process will conclude on January 31 2017, and then the closing date for bids is set for March 28 2017. Documents and data packages will be available for purchase starting mid-November 2016.
However, the data may be incomplete. The Marker, an Israeli daily newspaper, reported today that the gas companies that already drilled exploration wells have not approved the release of their findings to potential bidders.
According to Israeli law, companies that drill exploration wells have to report their findings to the energy ministry. The ministry then can make other use of that data. Before releasing exploration data to the bidders, the ministry asked for permission from Noble Energy, one of the exploration operators, and was refused. It is not clear whether the ministry can go ahead and give those findings to potential bidders without Noble’s consent.
A similar problem arose with two other companies, Modiin Energy and Hachshara Energy. Both companies were partners in an exploration well in licenses Sara and Mira offshore Israel. The exploration failed, the licenses were revoked, but now the companies demand that findings from those explorations should not be released to potential bidders before their dispute with the energy ministry is resolved.
The energy ministry said that it will “publish high quality data concerning Israel’s EEZ which will secure the success of the competitive licensing round.”