Four groups of companies have made bids in Israel's latest tender for offshore hydrocarbon exploration, the Energy Ministry said on Sunday.
The ministry said the groups include a total of nine companies, five of which were new to the Israeli market. It did not name which companies took part.
Huge deposits of natural gas have been found over the last 15 years in the eastern Mediterranean, turning Israel into an energy exporter. Hoping to add to its reserves, Israel offered licences for four exploration zones made up of 20 blocks in its fourth offshore bidding round.
The bids will be examined in the coming weeks before winners are chosen, the ministry said.
"The scope of the proposals and the diversity of bidders means new companies will explore for natural gas in Israel's economic waters," the ministry said.
(Reuters - Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Barbara Lewis)