“This is a very important process, which is expected to encourage international energy companies to invest in the natural gas market in Israel,” says Steinitz.
Israel’s economic waters are open for new natural gas and oil exploration, after a four-year freeze as members of the Petroleum Council, under the umbrella of the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry, decided at a meeting on Tuesday to resume the search for petroleum.

In the initial phase, 24 exploration blocks will be marketed in an international tender in hopes that energy companies will come search for more hydrocarbons in the depths of Israel’s Mediterranean.

The Petroleum Council selected 24 blocks that have high potential to be geologically suitable for exploration, according to seismic and geological data, the Energy Ministry said. The size of each area is 400 square kilometers, and some of the blocks are located near existing large gas discoveries that were discovered at a depth of 1,500 to 1,800 meters.

“The recommendation of the council regarding the areas for natural gas and oil exploration in Israel’s economic waters is a significant and necessary step toward the development of the Israeli gas sector,” said Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz. “This is a very important process that is expected to encourage international energy companies to invest in the Israeli natural gas market.”

As per the recommendations of a strategic environmental survey conducted by the ministry, all of the blocks are located at least 7 km. from Israel’s coast. The Petroleum Council decided to open up the blocks for exploration based on an independent study recently performed for the ministry by an international consultancy firm, which revealed that some 6.6 billion barrels of oil and about 2,137 billion cubic meters of natural gas have yet to be discovered in Israel’s waters, according to the ministry.

Seismic and drilling data will be made available to all companies interested in performing individual examinations of the areas located within the new licenses, the ministry added.