Israel council approves first license to drill for oil in Golan Heights

Israel’s Petroleum Council has approved the first license to drill for oil in the occupied Golan Heights and recommended that it be granted to Genie Energy Ltd., the Energy and Water Ministry said on Thursday. 

The license would be granted to Genie Energy’s Israeli subsidiary, Genie Israel Oil and Gas Ltd., a Genie Energy press release said Wednesday.

The council’s decision follows initial geological tests that indicated a potential for substantial quantities of oil in the southern part of the Golan Heights. On the basis of the initial tests, Israeli Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau decided to open up the territory for oil and gas exploration. 

There were two applications for the licenses — the other coming from israel’s Ultra Equity Investments Ltd.

Genie Energy is the parent company of Israel Energy Initiatives Ltd. which is planning to start drilling in shale oil deposits in central Israel in the coming months. 

IEI hopes to develop Israel’s huge shale reserves after being given the go ahead by the courts which rejected attempts of environmental groups and residents of the region to prevent the company from proceeding with its plans. 

Genie Energy comprises IDT Energy and Genie Oil and Gas. IDT Energy is a retail energy provider supplying electricity and natural gas to residential and small business customers in the US, while GOGAS has shale oil development projects in Colorado and Israel.

(Reporting by Neal Sandler; Edited by Haripriya Banerjee)

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