Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) plans to bid for Israeli offshore oil-and-gas exploration blocks, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan has told the source. There was no immediate comment from Israel's energy ministry. India is keen to enter into an area where many oil majors are hesitant to do so fearing repercussions from the Arab countries. Israel had put up 24 offshore blocks for auction previous year, to tap into its large natural gas reserves. When PM Modi visited Israel in July, both the countries had shown keen interest to broaden their economic base, rather than just sticking to defence.
The follow-up visit by Indian energy companies included representatives of India's oil ministry and managers at IOCL, OVL, BPCL, and Hindustan Petroleum, Israel's Ministry of Energy noted. The auction closes on November 15. The managers of the Indian companies and senior government officials were briefed by Israel on the status of development of oil and gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, the potential for oil and gas offshore development, the Israeli fiscal regime, and the terms of the bidding round, Israel's Ministry of Energy said. They control the Tamar and the much larger Leviathan fields. Three of those blocks border waters with Israel, with which Lebanon has a long-standing maritime border dispute.
India and Israel are now celebrating the 25th anniversary of the official establishment of diplomatic relations, and cultural, economic and defense ties between the two countries have flourished in recent years. 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 made a decision to award the field to Russia's Gazprom.