ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) which leads an association of Indian state-run oil and gas hunters is all set to drop anchor in the waters of Israel in between the growing proximity of Tel Aviv and New Delhi for the first time and reminded to provide a staggering gap with Iran. Farjad-B gas field discovered by the same Indian group.
On December 11, the permission to drop an anchor was given by Israel’s Energy Minister. The permission was given to the bid for one block submitted by Bharat Petroleum, Indian Oil, and OVL. Not only India, but Greece was also the bidder in acquiring the permission for five blocks in Israel waters.
The news of dropping of the anchor has been confirmed by ONGC Videsh MD N K Verma by stating that before deciding on drilling for oil or gas in the block, the consortium will go through certain procedures. This was the first auction of exploration licenses in four years, which included 24 blocks because Israel stopped foreign companies from exploring in their eastern Mediterranean.
Israel has permitted for drilling in the waters of Israel before the PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s India visit of three days which will be going to place on January 14. This permission indicates that both the governments are willing to expand the horizon of bilateral ties from defence and security to energy security.
So far, oil and gas were not part of bilateral talks, which have been mainly dominated by defense equipment and water management. Reliance Industries Ltd, India’s largest private oil company, is the only company to lease petroproducts storage capacity of Eilat-Ashlon Pipeline Company.
The process of involving oil in areas of bilateral cooperation began before the journey of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel and it will be a July visit. Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in June that he should invite Indian participation in the exploration business of the country, which was dominated by the Delek Group and Isramco Negev. Two months ago it was linked to this month because the Indian was approving the bid.
With the major gas reserves, Israel has emerged as a greenery grassland for the Indian group because Iran plays on Farzad-B. But the decision to allow private companies to bid for government companies in the Israeli block of New Delhi also provides a strong message to Iran – the extreme opponent of Israel – as it comes in the face of global players.
India’s relations with Iran have cooled down Tehran’s failure to award the Farzad-B for the OVL-led Consortium so that despite the commitments to see the agreement soon by the top leaders of both sides to see the deal done fast.
Pradhan had said in June: “India stood with Iran during its difficult days and will continue to do so in the future also. But, at the same time, we also expect our economic interests to be protected.”