Israel has begun preparations for a fourth offshore bid round (OBR 4), even while still waiting for the closing results of its third round.
The new round, the Ministry of Energy said, was intended to explore and develop natural resources. The aim is to “provide low cost, environmentally friendly energy to Israel’s consumers and businesses and to develop markets for Israeli natural gas beyond its borders”.
The ministry said it had mapped 25 blocks. It has grouped these into six clusters, covering up to 1,600 square km. OBR 4, like OBR 2, will involve the ministry offering zones to qualified companies. Each zone will cover four blocks.
The blocks are at least 7 km from shore. The ministry has taken the decision to rule out any areas closer to the coast. It also said there were no known environmentally sensitive habitats covered by the blocks in OBR 4.
It has not set a firm date for the launch of the round.
Speaking at the end of May, Minister of Energy Karine Elharrar described the global energy crisis as an “opportunity”. Israel, she said, could “export larger quantities of natural gas, alongside the genuine and sincere concern about the events taking place in Europe”.
Director in the ministry, Lior Schillat, said there was a global need for gas in the “immediate future and in the medium term”. Alongside European demand, he said, gas played an important role in “strengthening the ties between Israel and Egypt”.
Israel closed its first bid round in 2017, granting six licences to Energean and some Indian companies. The second round closed in 2019, with eight licences to what is now Capricorn Energy, Pharos Energy and Ratio Petroleum. Another four went to Energean.
The ministry has not decided who has won the third round, which covers Block 72, previously known as Alon D. This area is next to Energean’s Karish field. Lebanon and Israel dispute the ownership of Block 72.
Bids for Block 72 were due by September 2020.
Israel launched PRIME, the Petroleum Repository of the Israeli Ministry of Energy, in January.