Preliminary findings at the Afek Oil and Gas site in the southern Golan Heights have indicated the presence of hydrocarbons in the target drilling layer, the company's controlling shareholder, Genie Energy Ltd., announced on Tuesday. While hydrocarbons were identified, comprehensive scientific evaluations are required to determine whether the presence of such materials indicates oil, gas, condensate or none of the above. Afek is therefore progressing according to plan and beginning its analysis of rock samples from the drilling as well as gathering information from the well, its mother company said. "The initial findings indicate the presence of hydrocarbons and are compatible with geological models," a statement from the New Jersey-based Genie Energy said. "It should be emphasized that the signs are ambiguous and require further analysis and completion of the drilling program."Drilling at the Afek Ness-5 site, located just northwest of the Avnei Eitan and Nov moshavim and south of Kibbutz Natur and the town of Katzrin, began in mid-February. The 0.7-hectare (1.7 acre) Ness-5 is the first of up to 10 such sites on the southern Golan Heights for which Afek has a license to explore for conventional oil over the next three years. The exploratory drilling began at the 0.7-hectare (1.7-acre) Ness-5 site in mid-February.The project received its exploratory drilling license for a 39,500-hectare (97,606.6-acre) zone south of Katzrin in April 2013, followed by the approval of the Northern District Committee for Planning and Building in July 2014.In the six months that followed, however, the company faced delays due to environmental opposition. In addition to protests outside the site led by Greenpeace, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and other groups, a High Court of Justice petition Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) filed in September brought about a temporary halt in work – until the petition’s dismissal in December. After receiving the go-ahead following the court decision, Afek was to proceed with the drilling in February. Once work is completed at Ness-5, the company is slated to continue drilling at its next site, Ness-3, located near the Bnei Yehuda industrial area, further south on the Golan Heights.