Israel's Tamar gas field. (Moshe Shai/Flash90) Israel's offshore gas field. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Israel gas rig

Failing in Iran, Indian investors are turning to Israel, where they hope to find a secure investment in its energy industry.   

A consortium of Indian energy companies has applied for an Israeli Energy Ministry tender for offshore exploration licenses, signaling another step in the warming ties between Israel and India.

The tender offered exploration licenses for 24 of the 69 potential areas designated for oil and natural gas exploration in Israel’s economic waters.

The Greek energy giant Energean Oil & Gas also submitted a bid. The Indian consortium comprises companies with an estimated combined worth of $90 billion, employing some 100,000 people.

India is Israel’s 10th largest trade partner worldwide and its second-largest in Asia. In 2016, trade between Israel and India amounted to $4 billion.

The Indian company’s decision to invest in Israel comes after its failure to seek a similar deal in Iran.

Mining Weekly reported this week that changing geopolitical alignments and receding investment prospects in Iran are prompting the consortium of Indian oil companies to invest in exploration and production projects in Israel.

A source quoted in the report acknowledged that the deadlock in India-Iran government-to-government talks on an Iranian gas field and the subsequent revival of India-Israel strategic bilateral relations also had a bearing on Indian oil companies’ shift in focus on overseas investments.

After Iran accused India of “inflexibility” and the latter charged the Islamic Republic with “shifting the goal posts” and “delaying” investments in a gas filed by India oil companies, opportunities to develop Israeli oil and gas blocks would be the death blow to the non-starter projects in Iran, the sources said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Israel in July, the first ever by an Indian head of state, and a reciprocal visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, scheduled for January 2018, indicate the growing bilateral relations and shift in India’s focus in the region.

Israel’s economy has received a significant boost by its gas findings, and the Israeli central bank reported that natural gas added approximately 0.3% to the GDP over the course of 2014.

The gas fields are not only economically important to Israel, but politically as well. In 2013, the Israeli government decided that the country should export 40% of its gas production and invest the profits in economic development.

Israel has already signed contracts with Jordan and Egypt.

By: JNS.org and United with Israel Staff

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