Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz plans reopening Israel's exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean for oil and gas exploration. Speaking at the Universal Oil and Gas Conference in Tel Aviv yesterday, Steinitz said, "Exploration has only been carried out in 25% of Israel exclusive economic waters. The gas outline agreement will be approved in mid-December and will go into effect at the start of 2016. Then several months after that, I have already given instructions to open up the waters." He added that research commissioned by the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources has found that Israel has rich potential for the discovery of more gas fields.
In 2002, the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources stopped granting new exploration licenses in the Mediterranean until the Oil Law was reformed and new policies were set. Several years after that, the ministry recommenced issuing license but the process was again halted in 2012. In the State Comptroller's last report on the development of the natural gas industry, he criticized the conduct of the ministry, and charged that it had led to the creation of a gas monopoly in Israel.
Steinitz also said that Israel, Cyprus and Egypt were discussing the joint development of gas fields in their countries. "I'm not allowed to say much about this but we are examining the option. The first option is joint development of reservoirs and through the existing liquefied gas installations in Egypt and a second option is building a gas pipeline to Turkey, and from there the gas can continue to Europe."
Meanwhile, Israel and Cyprus are attempting to move forward on signing a unitization agreement that would set arrangements for development of the joint gas fields held by the countries and other cooperation in the energy sector. "On Friday the Prime Minister and I sat with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and discussed the unitization agreement among other things," Steinitz told "Globes." An Israeli delegation will leave for Cyprus in the coming few days to push forward on the matter and our aim is to sign an agreement in the coming few months."
The Aphrodite gas field discovered in Cyprus's Block 12 extends in part to the license in Israel's waters. The signing of the agreement has been delayed because of basic disputes and various technical matters and the negotiations between the sides have been dragging on for more than five years.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 18, 2015
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