Russia's Gazprom may join the exploration race for a new natural gas windfall off the coast of Israel, Israeli media reported today. Financial daily Globes on its website reported Gazprom, together with Israel's Modiin Energy, the IDB Group and Israel Land Development, was considering vying for a new tender for exploratory offshore drilling. Officials at both Israel's Infrastructure Ministry and Modiin Energy declined to comment on the report. Gazprom was not available for immediate reaction, according to a Reuters report.
US group Noble Energy has been the major international player in the Israeli natural gas market, leading an exploration group at a number of deep-sea sites. The group shook the local energy market last year when it announced the reserves of its Tamar site, located 90 kilometres off the Mediterranean port of Haifa, were estimated at 7.3 trillion cubic feet, enough to supply Israel with natural gas for about 20 years. Since the Tamar discovery, Noble has been investigating further explorations.
Globes also reported a Gazprom representative met with Israel's petroleum commissioner to discuss the possibility of joining the exploration process. A source in the energy industry confirmed the meeting took place, but stressed no decision had been made. The source also said Gazprom would likely only play the role of "operator" in any future deal.