Israel is preparing the ground to launch another offshore licensing round, specifically because of Europe’s urgent need to source gas to replace Russian supplies.

Almost 35 trillion cubic feet of gas has been discovered so far in Israeli waters, even though its sector of the prolific Levant basin has — relatively speaking — been only lightly touched by exploration drilling.

Chevron is producing gas from the 21 Tcf Leviathan field and 10 Tcf Tamar field, while this September Energean is set to bring online its Karish and Karish North fields.

Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said: “The state of Israel is gearing up to help Europe diversify its sources of energy. The global energy crisis is an opportunity for Israel to export larger quantities of natural gas, alongside the genuine and sincere concern about the events taking place in Europe.”

She has instructed the ministry’s director general Lior Schillat to prepare for to accelerate the launch of a fourth offshore bid round, although no details were revealed on the acreage to be offered or timeline.

Schillat said: “The geopolitical events around the world and the global energy crisis they spawned have transformed the energy market. Following the crisis, we launched talks with our international counterparts, mainly in Europe, the US and Egypt, in an attempt to understand their strategy in the face of the crisis.”

While noting that Europe and Israel agree “that the most important strategic move in overcoming the (gas) crisis is to accelerate the development of renewable energies,” he stressed that “one cannot ignore the global need for natural gas both in the immediate future and in the medium term.”

“The Europeans stated very clearly that if they do not find sufficient sources as alternatives for the natural gas they need, some of the EU member countries will be forced to revert to the use of coal to produce electricity,” said Schillat.

The ministry official also pointed out that “it is hard to overstate the importance of natural gas in strengthening the ties between Israel and Egypt and its effect on Israel's geopolitical position in the Middle East.”

The bulk of Israel’s gas is used domestically and is replacing coal-fired power, but some is also exported to Egypt and Jordan.

Israel is also a key backer of the proposed — but stalled — East Mediterranean pipeline that would take gas from Israel and Cyprus and send it to Italy via Greece and, separately, is eyeing the possibility of piping its gas to Turkey following a rapprochement with the authorities in Ankara.

In addition to the geopolitical focus on gas, Elharrar remarked that over the past year the ministry has focused on removing bureaucratic and regulatory barriers to the adoption of renewable energy, while working to guarantee Israel’s energy security.

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