The likelihood of Israeli companies winning gas exploration licenses in Cypriot
waters has improved after a range of large international companies decided not
to bid for block tenders. In February, the Cypriot government published tenders
for 12 blocks of offshore licenses.
Sources inform "Globes" that a range
of international companies, including Russian, Chinese and French companies,
have decided not to compete in the bid following diplomatic pressure from
Turkey. The attractiveness of the blocks has also suffered from the relatively
disappointing results from the Block 12 drilling - the only license so far
issued - where lower than expected quantities of gas were found.
that some large companies are staying away improves the chances of Israeli
companies that are planning to bid. Israeli companies enjoy an advantage because
the areas being searched are close to the Levantine basin where the Israeli
licenses are located. Consequently, they already have information about the
geological layers to be drilled.
Sources inform "Globes" that one of the
leading Israeli bidders is Ofer Nimrodi, controlling shareholder in Israel Land
Development Energy Company, which holds a stake in the Myra and
Sarah licenses. Nimrodi recently met with senior figures in the Cypriot
government, although as far as is known Nimrodi is yet to bring an international
drilling operator on board. Other Israeli companies whose names have yet to be
published include Dor Alon Energy, which holds 4% of the Tamar license, and Epsilon Sigma,
a partner in the Dalia Energy private power station. Other groups likely to bid
are Isramco, Modiin Energy,
and ATP Oil & Gas Corporation, which may try to form a
consortium with Israel Electric Corporation. Delek Group, which holds 30% of the Cypriot Block 12 license has yet to
decide whether to bid.
Russia is particularly concerned with antagonizing Turkey, fearing that Ankara will promote the Naboco project to bring gas from
central Asia to Europe and compete with Russian gas. Turkey is also an important
market itself for Gazprom, buying some 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year
from the Russian national company. The Chinese government has also ordered
companies not to take part in tenders.