JERUSALEM, June 6 (Reuters) - Israel on Thursday extended its tender by a month to grant new licenses for offshore oil and natural gas exploration.
The deadline for bids was due by June 17 but the Energy Ministry extended it until July 15, with the winners to be announced on August 12, it said.
The ministry said the extension was given due to requests from companies that bought documents for the tender process.
A number of large gas discoveries offshore Israel and in nearby eastern Mediterranean waters in the last decade have made Israel a potentially lucrative prospect for big energy firms.
Israel is tendering 19 new offshore blocks to oil and gas companies. A previous auction elicited bids from only two groups of companies, and the Energy Ministry said it expected more to compete this time as conditions have improved.
Brazilian state-run oil firm Petrobras will take part in the tender, Israel's energy minister said in March. Exxon Mobil Corp, in a major policy shift, is also considering bidding in the auction. (Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Tova Cohen)