Israel Awards First License to Drill on Golan Heights to Genie

Israel’s Ministry of Energy and Water Resources has awarded the first energy exploration license in the disputed Golan Heights to a local subsidiary of U.S.- based Genie Energy Corp.

“The company believes, based on its preliminary analysis and interpretation of existing geological data, that the newly issued license area may contain significant quantities of conventional oil and gas in relatively tight formations,” Genie Energy said today in an e-mailed statement.

The Golan was captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 war, and again served as a battlefield when the Syrians unsuccessfully tried to retake it in the 1973 conflict. Israeli claims to the territory aren’t recognized by the international community. Former prime minister Ehud Barak offered to return most of the occupied Golan to Syria in unsuccessful negotiations to reach a peace agreement in 1999-2000.

Israeli Energy Minister Uzi Landau decided last year to open the Golan to energy exploration, after significant gas fields were discovered off the country’s Mediterranean shore.

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