“We will definitely bid for Israel’s oil-and-gas blocks,” Indian Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has told "Reuters."
India and Israel have developed close economic and political ties over the past few years, which have included the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July, and the signing of major defense deals such as the $2 billion agreement signed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to supply India with advanced missile systems.
Now Pradhan has told "Reuters" that the Indian state owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) will bid in the latest auction of 48 offshore blocks, which closes in November. "Reuters" also revealed that a high-ranking delegation from India visited Israel last month "to discuss taking part in the tender for blocks in the Mediterranean Sea and Israeli officials said they were pleased with the visit."
<p> India is conducting a technical and commercial analysis to participate in the Israel’s bidding process, Sanjay Sudhir, a joint secretary in the federal oil ministry, who led the delegation, told "Reuters."
There was no immediate comment from Israel’s energy ministry. However, an official at Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources, who declined to be identified, said to "Reuters" on the Indian team’s visit, “We dove into all the relevant details of the tender - geological, technical - and familiarized them with Israel’s oil and gas ecosystem,”
<p>Most oil majors are reluctant to bid for Israeli licenses for fear it would compromise their operations in the Arab world. But Pradhan said that ONGC also wants to bid for Lebanese government offshore tenders. A source at ONGC's Videsh overseas investment arm said the firm would not bid for any block in areas disputed by Israel and Lebanon.
India’s decision to bid for blocks off Israel and Lebanon, "Reuters" added, comes after a setback in getting development rights for a giant gas field in Iran. Indian companies discovered the Farzad B gas field in Iran in 2008 and have bid several times for the development rights, but media reports suggest that Tehran has decided to award the field to Russia’s Gazprom.
<p> Oil India Ltd, another State-owned company, has not yet decided to bid in Israel’s licensing round, the Indian company’s chairman, Utpal Bora, told "Reuters."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - <a href=http://www.globes-online.com>www.globes-online.com</a> - on September 4, 2017
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