Israel on Oct. 28 granted offshore exploration licenses to two groups of energy companies in its latest round of tenders for the eastern Mediterranean.

Israel’s energy ministry, which made the announcement, hopes new activity will help position the country as a regional energy hub after massive amounts of natural gas were discovered off its shores.

The first group, made up of British newcomers Cairn Energy, Pharos Energy and Israel’s Ratio Oil, received licenses to explore eight offshore blocks.

The second consortium, which included repeat bidders Energean and Israel Opportunity, were granted four.

Israel discovered in 2009 that it had large reserves of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, turning it into an energy exporter from an importer, and has been hoping to attract oil and gas majors to operate in its waters.

The recent tender, however, was disappointing with just the two groups placing bids.

The ministry said another bidding round was expected in 2021.