Joshua and Michael Beagelman with the first drop of oil ever produced in Israel.
(photo credit: PR)
A father-son entrepreneurial team from the United Kingdom hopes to sway the world's major gas and oil players to set their sights on the growing Israeli natural gas market.
With this purpose in mind, Michael Beagelman, CEO of Universal Oil & Gas Ltd., and his son Joshua Beagelman, COO of the firm, are holding the "1st International Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition in Israel," at a Dead Sea resort next week. The two argue that big hydrocarbon stakeholders around the world are not sufficiently aware of the opportunities available in the Eastern Mediterranean, and they hope to help solve this issue at the convention.
"We're trying to focus on further opportunities for the expertise of the industry to come to Israel," Joshua told The Jerusalem Post
in a phone interview on Tuesday evening, alongside his father.
They have attracted participants from Abderdeen, an oil hub in Scotland, as well as from Denmark, among others. The players that arrive from these countries and others around the globe will hear from a number of key Israeli experts involved with the gas industry here, from both the corporate and government perspectives.
"The goal is to create the platform for them to come," Joshua said. "Conferences are a good way to bring people to somewhere like Israel, where they are not comfortable on a normal basis. It's to showcase and speak of the opportunities in the sector, to talk about how international companies can take advantage of the Israeli gas market."
"We organically built up the right program and the participants," he added. "Since then we have found the government more cooperative."
While many of the world's gas and oil stakeholders do realize that there is an emerging gas exploration and development market in Israel, they are not aware of more specific details, such as information on what offshore licenses might still be available to them, Joshua explained.
By attracting members of these hydrocarbon hubs to come together in Israel next week, the Beagelmans said they hope to bring such information to them, with a "key message that Israel is open for business."
Earlier this year, Australian hydrocarbon firm Woodside Petroleum withdrew from a projected $2.71 billion deal to acquire 25% of the Leviathan basin due to disagreements with the country’s Tax Authority. Asked if this withdrawal, and other bureaucratic obstacles in Israel, would be a turn off for the companies they are trying to attract, the Beagelmans said they felt such regulatory issues could be overcome.
"If you want to do business, regulation can be sorted," Michael said.
Regarding Woodside in particular, Joshua argued that the near deal could be used to showcase opportunities in Israel further.
"In a way, it focused the attention even more on Israel," he said.
"Companies who come have to have the right advice as to who to deal with both the public and private sector," Joshua added. "The business has grown from private sector but the government is key in this equation."
Acknowledging that Israel may be very bureaucratic, he stressed that rule of law, transparency and market security will be attractive factors to interested firms.
"if I'm a foreign company i want to know exactly what I'm getting and what I'm not," Michael said. "The shekel is an exceptionally strong currency."
"As a country [Israel] has always protected her assets," he added.