NEW DELHI: Three years after its much-acclaimed maiden entry into Israeli water that was symbolic of New Delhi's growing closeness with Tel Aviv, an ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL)-led Indian consortium has relinquished the offshore oil block due to "very poor" hydrocarbon prospectivity.
The consortium of OVL, Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Oil India Ltd and Bharat PetroResources Ltd (BRPL) has relinquished offshore Block-32, two officials with the partners said.
When the Indian consortium in late 2017 won the Israeli energy ministry's nod to bid for the block, it was hailed as New Delhi's growing closeness with Tel Aviv amid a widening chasm with Iran over its recalcitrance in awarding the Farzad-B gas field development rights to the OVL-led group.
The nod for the Offshore Block-32 by the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources came ahead of the then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to India in January 2018.
Before that oil and gas was not part of the bilateral engagements between the two sides.
The block was awarded to the four partners in the first Israel Offshore Bid Round 2016 and the Petroleum License was signed on March 27, 2018, the officials said, adding the four partners held 25 per cent apiece in the block whose petroleum license was valid up to March 26, 2021.
OVL, the overseas investment arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), was the operator through Indus East Mediterranean Exploration Ltd (IEMEL).
The officials said the Indian partners carried out an assessment of hydrocarbon prospectivity based on the available 2D and 3D seismic data and submitted a report to the Israeli Petroleum Commissioner on March 28, 2019.
The report along with prospectivity analysis of the block was submitted to the regulator," an official said.
"Due to very poor hydrocarbon prospectivity, the consortium decided to relinquish the block and the notice of relinquishment was issued to the Petroleum Commissioner, Israel. The Petroleum Commissioner, Israel has approved the relinquishment." Block-32 has an area of 356.98 square kilometres and was located offshore Israel with water depth ranging between 1,500-1,800 meters.
As per the bid conditions, the partners were supposed to carry out reprocessing and interpretation of available seismic data.
The seismic and other G&G data was sourced from Israeli authorities.
OVL had discovered a giant Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf, but Iran has dragged its feet on giving its development rights to the Indian consortium.