Israel’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure said on Sunday that it has awarded 12 licenses to six companies, including BP and ENI, for natural gas exploration off the country’s Mediterranean coast, as the war with Gaza-based Hamas entered its fourth week with no ceasefire in sight.
The offshore tender is the fourth bidding round for natural gas exploration in Israeli waters, whereby the ministry intends to boost competition as well as grow domestic supply and exports.
Two consortia won the bids: one comprising Italy’s ENI, Scotland’s Dana Petroleum Ltd. and Israeli business Ratio Energies, while the other consists of BP, State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and Israel’s NewMed Energy. The companies will explore two areas next to Israel’s Leviathan field, the country’s largest and one of the world’s biggest deep-water gas discoveries.
Israel’s war with Hamas saw the shutdown of Israel's Tamar offshore gas field, the country’s second-largest. It has yet to be reopened after being closed for security reasons on Oct. 8. The site is owned by Chevron, Dor Gas Exploration Limited Partnership, Everest Infrastructures, Isramco Negev 2, UAE-based Mubadala Investment and the Israeli company Tamar Petroleum. Before the shutdown, the field typically met around 70% of Israel’s power generation needs. The country has since been backfilling the supply from other fields to avoid disruptions to flows.