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Draft maritime zones bill to clear the water for Oil & Gas Exploration

The recent decision of the Antitrust Commissioner with regard to the existence of a natural gas monopoly illustrates all the more emphatically the absence of an orderly legislative framework to regulate all matters pertaining to oil and gas exploration and production in Israel.

Nevertheless, moves are being made to clarify the regulatory framework concerning off shore Oil & Gas. A few weeks beforethe Commissioner’s decision,  the government had submitted a draft bill to the knesset on the matter of Israel’s maritime zones.

The draft bill is worded in a way that adopts the customary provisions of the international Convention of the Law of the Sea of 1982, even though the State of Israel is not one of its signatories.

The draft bill defines five maritime zones, including the exclusive economic zone of the State of Israel. Besides defining the boundaries of the exclusive economic zone, the draft bill also prescribes the State’s powers and authorities and the laws that shall apply to that zone.

The adoption of the draft bill by the knesset will create certainty and reduce the ambiguity surrounding all issues pertaining to oil and gas exploration, production, utilization and management in Israel’s economic waters. and should encourage foreign companies to consider entry into the Israeli market.