BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards and members of the Louisiana delegation met with Israeli energy minister Yuval Steinitz Sunday to explore a partnership that would send Louisiana drilling companies to Israel.
Israelis recently discovered natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea that could make them a powerful energy player in the middle east.
“They’re looking for experience and expertise," Edwards said. "Of course, we’ve been drilling offshore for a long time, especially in the Gulf of Mexico.”
In the meeting, which was mostly closed to the press, Steinitz thanked Louisiana for being Israel’s “friend,” and expressed willingness to work together. Edwards said the minister requested more information about offshore drilling companies in Louisiana and the drilling process.
“It’s the first real economic interaction we’ve had with this company,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said. “The whole purpose of this meeting is to develop relationships and have a follow-up.”
The Israelis expect to begin producing natural gas next year. Edwards said he expects the nation to begin taking bids for help in the coming weeks.
Because of the geopolitical climate in the middle east, the Israeli government would like the nation to become self-sufficient. Edwards said a deal with a Louisiana company could help wean the nation off foreign oil and coal.
“We have some opportunities for Louisiana companies to catch the eye of Israel,” Dardenne said. “We have more experience drilling offshore than anybody and the minister recognizes our expertise in this area and their need for assistance.”