Israel has awarded its first license to drill for oil on the occupied Golan Heights to a US energy company, industry sources said on Thursday.
Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. The strategic plateau has been extensively settled by Israelis and is the site of a major wind turbine project.
Energy sector sources said that after Israel decided last year to allow oil and gas exploration on the Golan, Genie Energy was awarded a license to drill. The New Jersey-based company still needs further work permits for drilling to commence, a process that could take years.
Genie did not immediately return calls for comment.
The Golan's status has been at the heart of past Israeli-Syrian peace talks, with Damascus demanding its full return. With a two-year-old Syrian revolt now threatening President Bashar al-Assad's rule, Israel has dug in on the Golan.
Last Thursday, financial news site TheMarker reported that US-Israeli consortium developing the Tamar natural gas field off Palestine's Mediterranean coast is in talks to sell gas to Jordanian companies.
The Tamar prospect, whose estimated reserves of 274 bcm made it one of the largest discoveries of the past decades, is expected to begin production in the next few months.
Jordan, like Israel, was dealt a wave of attacks on pipelines from Egypt. But Egypt still supplies Jordan with gas while it halted supply to Israel last year.
Egypt's pipeline with Israel was attacked over 13 times since a popular revolt toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in