Exxon Mobil Corp is considering exploring for oil and gas offshore from Israel, a person with direct knowledge of the matter has told "Reuters." This would make Exxon the first oil major to operate in Israel, which is still technically at war with Gulf Arab states.
Exxon executives held talks with Israeli Minister for National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz in Houston this week about bidding for the right to explore and pump oil from offshore blocks in an auction that Israel will hold in June, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told "Reuters."
Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, recently acquired a $50,000 data package from the Israeli energy ministry for the auction, the person also told "Reuters."
An Exxon team also visited a data center set up by the ministry in Jerusalem, the source told "Reuters.". Thet center holds detailed information about the geology of the sub-sea rocks, believed to hold up to 75 trillion cubic feet of gas and 6.6 billion barrels of oil, according to estimates.
Exxon and Israel’s energy ministry declined comment.
Large gas discoveries offshore Israel such as the Tamar and Leviathan fields and other discoveries in the nearby eastern Mediterranean waters of Egypt and Cyprus have made Israel a potentially lucrative prospect for big energy firms. The region is emerging as a new hot spot for gas exploration and production.
Last month, Exxon announced a major gas discovery in Cyprus together with its partner Qatar Petroleum. That field is near two other huge gas finds in the region: Leviathan off Israel and Zohr off Egypt.
US majors and competitors such as Royal Dutch Shell and France’s Total have avoided investing in Israel, for fear of antagonizing the governments of giant regional oil and gas producers such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, which do not recognize Israel.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 14, 2019
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