The Petroleum Commission granted the Neta and Roy offshore natural gas exploration licenses to Ratio Oil Exploration (1992) LP (TASE:RATI.L), Israel Opportunity Energy Resources LP (TASE: ISOP.L), and Italy's Edison International SpA on Monday. Ratio will own 70% of the licenses, Israel Opportunity will own 10%, and Edison International will own 20%.
Edison International, a subsidiary of utility Électricité de France SA (Euronext: EDF), is a drilling operator on par with Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL), which until now has had complete hegemony in the Israeli market.
After a string of dry holes by new oil and gas exploration companies, the Neta and Roy licenses are the industry's last great hope to create real competition against Noble Energy and Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG). The Neta and Roy licenses are part of the Gal prospect, southwest of Leviathan's Rachel and Amit licenses.
''Globes'' has reported that the Neta and Roy licenses have an estimated 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, a report denied by the licensees. Other estimates of the licenses' potential resources are much greater. The licenses' precise probabilities will only be known when the licensees submit a resources report to the Petroleum Commissioner, which will not happen for several months.
If oil is found at Leviathan, the Neta and Roy licenses could be big winners, as they have similar geological structures as Leviathan's possible oil-bearing strata. An exploratory well to reach Leviathan's oil-bearing strata is due to begin late this year and take five months.
Noble Energy owns 39.66% of Leviathan, Delek units Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L) and Delek Drilling LP (TASE: DEDR.L) each own 22.67% and Ratio owns 15%.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 17, 2013
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