Fifty-four percent of Israeli waters off the coast will soon be divided up among several companies to search for natural gas and crude oil. The Crude Oil Council within the National Infrastructures Ministry recommended issuing an additional 20 licenses on Thursday, the ministry announced on Sunday. Following the success of the Tamar 1 find of a large quantity of natural gas off the coast of Haifa, the council recommended further exploration in the hopes of finding more fossil fuels. After several years in which less than 10% of Israel's waters were being explored, the ministry has been steadily increasing licenses for exploratory expeditions. Council head Dr. Ya'acov Mimran said at the opening of the meeting that there was a 40% chance of a 20 billion-cu.m. find at the Dalit drilling site in the Michal licensing area. The council also recommended issuing a license to Negev Oil and Shale to produce shale oil in the Rotem area in the South. All licenses must be approved by the minister and the relevant legal authorities within the ministry.