Israel, Cyprus and Lebanon remain hopeful that the August 2015 discovery of the 25 tcf Zohr gas field offshore Egypt will reignite interest in their upstream sectors but regulatory issues, lack of viable export options and domestic politics are proving difficult hurdles to overcome.

Israel is planning on offering 24 offshore blocks (see map) each 400km² in an international bid round slated for November of this year, following firmly in the footsteps of its neighbor Cyprus, which placed three blocks on offer in March. But although the Cypriots received bids from US-major ExxonMobil, Qatar’s QP, France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Norway’s Statoil (MEES, 29 July), Israel could be left with egg on its face, if firms opt against bidding for blocks for fear of a boycott from Mideast Arab states. (CONTINUED - 1071 WORDS)