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Israel’s Ministry of Energy has announced the first bid round for searching oil and natural gas in the sea, it includes 24 areas.

This announcement for a competitive proceeding, made by Minister of Energy Dr. Yuval Steinitz, is claimed to be the first of its kind in the country.

The distribution of new licenses was closed for four years.

"The opening of the sea for natural gas and oil searches is the best investment for Israel and its future."

Opening of the sea has been made possible following an extensive work done by the ministry in the last months, and the bidding is expected to lead to a significant increase in the extent of oil and natural gas production.

Dr. Steinitz said: “The opening of the sea for natural gas and oil searches is the best investment for Israel and its future.

"It is the best chance to increase the national resources bag for years to come.”

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Recently, the international consulting company Beicip-Franlab conducted research for the ministry and this research concluded that there are additional resources of about 6.6 billion oil barrels and about 2,137BCM of natural gas in the offshore region that needs to be explored.

As per the results of this research and a separate environmental survey, the Ministry formed 24 search areas with a maximum area of 400km² all at a distance of 7km from the coast. These areas will be offered for searches.

Based on the competitive proceeding principles, a preliminary license will be awarded for a three-year period. After its expiry, the license can be extended to three more years on the condition that the holder has executed the work plan and is willing to carry out drilling activity in the extension period.

To ensure the execution of work plan, the license holder needs to deposit $2.5m-$10m. The Ministry also decided to prevent all the companies with significant holdings in the sea with estimated reserves exceeding 200BCM from participation, thereby increasing the competition in the area.

All proposals are required to be submitted by 21 April, 2017 and the results will be announced in July 2017.