Israel Courting Energy Heavyweights to Seek Offshore Gas

Source: Bloomberg 8/31/2016, Location: Middle East

Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz is out to persuade big energy explorers put off by years of regulatory turmoil to search for natural gas off his country’s shores.

At a road show in London this week, Steinitz will sit down with executives from large and mid-sized energy companies to make his case that prospects for finding big reserves are good.

“According to geological and seismological surveys, it is very probable that most of the natural gas is yet to be found,” Steinitz said in an interview late Tuesday, on the eve of his London trip. “We hope to see at least two or three large companies submitting bids.”

A report by French consultants Beicip-Franlab SA estimated that Israel’s waters hold 2,200 billion cubic meters of undiscovered gas, about 2 1/2 times the amount contained in known fields, Steinitz said. In the past 12 months, he said, he’s met with chairmen, executives and directors of almost all of the world’s major gas companies to promote new exploration.

Israel is actively seeking energy investors now that the last of the regulatory, legal and political challenges that held up gas development for years was swept away in mid-May. Two major discoveries in the past decade have put Israel on course to become a gas exporter, but so far only one mid-sized international energy company -- Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. -- has taken an active role. Earlier this month, Greece’s Energean Oil & Gas SA agreed to buy two small offshore fields.

The Tel Aviv Oil & Gas Index has risen 24 percent since mid-May and now trades near the 2016 high.


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