Israel has granted offshore exploration blocks to two consortia of oil companies that placed their bids in the recent licensing round.Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz with oil and gas company representatives / Photo by Shlomi Amsalem, GPO – Ministry of EnergyEnergy ministry on Monday granted Cairn, Pharos (ex-SOCO), and Ratio eight licenses, in Blocks 39,40,47,48 (group A) and 45,46,52,53 (group C).Oil and gas companies Energean and Israel Opportunity were awarded exploration licenses in blocks 55,56,61,62 (group D)As reported in July, the Energy Ministry had in the licensing round tendered 19 exploration licenses, each one up to 400 km² in size. The 19 licenses were grouped into five zones, each up to 1,600 km² in size.According to the ministry, the decision to market the areas in zones of 3-4 licenses was taken to provide a higher degree of compatibility between the geological structures within the exploration areas, which could contain oil and natural gas reservoirs.It was the ministry’s view that holding larger exploration areas would enable the companies to undertake more extensive and thorough geological and geophysical surveys.Pharos (until recently known as Soco International) and Cairn will further expand the presence of the international oil companies in the Israeli waters.Currently, the U.S. Noble Energy operates the Tamar gas field and is working to bring the giant Leviathan gas field online by the end of 2019. In addition to Noble, the Greek company Energean is developing the Karish and Tanin fields, which it bought from Noble Energy in 2016.The Israeli energy ministry has previously said that exploration licenses would be granted for a period of 3 years.During this period, the licensees are expected to carry out the committed work program, which centers on examining the awarded area. After this, the licensees can request another two-year term extension, contingent upon an updated work program being submitted to include drilling a well in at least one of the licenses it respective clusters.The third licensing round is due to be held in 2021.Offshore Energy Today StaffSpotted a typo? Have something more to add to the story? Maybe a nice photo? Contact our editorial team via email.Also, if you’re interested in showcasing your company, product, or technology on Offshore Energy Today, please contact us via our advertising form, where you can also see our media kit.