Antitrust Authority eases restrictions on search for additional natural gas fields

In attempt to expedite the discovery of additional natural gas reservoirs in the Mediterranean, the Antitrust Authority on Sunday announced it would be providing some regulatory relief for certain partnerships performing new explorations.
“Cooperation on natural gas exploration among entities who do not have rights to the Leviathan and Tamar reservoirs should enjoy more lenient rules, which maximize the possibility of finding a gas reservoir that can compete with the existing monopoly,” acting Antitrust Authority commissioner Uri Schwartz wrote in his decision on the matter.
Sunday’s decision related specifically to collaborators exploring in the Oz and Palegic license zones and their request for an exemption from the Restrictive Trade Practices Law. Following consultation with the authority’s Committee for Exemptions and Mergers, Schwartz said he determined that these would neither be highly detrimental nor restrict competition in a large portion of gas market.
The decision comes at a time when the natural gas sector’s fate in Israel still remains uncertain, as political squabbles have prevented a deal between the government and the country’s dominant gas developers from moving forward.
Negotiations have gone on for nearly eight months since the December announcement by former Antitrust commissioner David Gilo (who stepped down on August 31) that he intended to review whether market dominance of the Delek Group and Noble constituted an illegal “restrictive agreement.”
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